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DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



THE CIRCTTLAE, 

Ten o'clock had just struck. Standing in front of a large white marble 
wash-basin, Count Horace de Pringy was concluding his toilette. An old 
officer of the African army, Horace de Pringy had retained from his 
military life the habit of allowing no strange hand to interfere with this 
operation. Every morning he shaved himself, brushed his hair, dressed 
himself, and required from his servant — whom, from an old habit, he 
always called his orderly — no other task than that of lighting his bedroom 
fire at ten minutes to nine, and calling him, — no matter what he had been 
doing the night before — at nine o'clock precisely. In spite of his title of 
retired officer, the count, without being a young man, was far from an 
old one. He bore his forty -five years gaily, and his erect and lofty figure, 
his black moustache terminating in two taper points, his fine head of hair, 
tinged almost imperceptibly with grey, and his general bearing, which was 
martial, though not obtrusively so, gave him many admirers among the fair 
sex. The offspring of an old family, he had the mtrde to the best drawing- 
rooms and clubs, and, without possessing a large fortune, he had enough 
to cut a good figure in society. 

On this particular morning the count was nervous. He had had a 
quarrel the night before with his mistress, an actress at the Varieles. In 
order to employ his mind he had taken a hand at baccarat at the club, 
and, contrary to the old proverb, which holds that he who is unlucky 
at love is lucky at cards, he had been — to use a gambler's metaphor — 
" skinned." Accordingly he had gone to bed very late, had slept badly, 
and although when his servant, the faithful Denis, had come and called 
him punctually at nine o'clock, he had followed the regulation which he 
had himself drawn up, it did not prevent him from regretting his bed 
and swearing between his teeth. The pale November sun, which, filtering 
through the window-panes, cast multi-coloured beams into the room, did 
not succeed in imparting its cheerfulness to him. As the count was pullino 
on his house jacket and stretching out his hand to his cigar-box, Denis 
entered, carrying on a tray the morning's papers and letters. Pringy care- 
lessly unfolded a few of the former, glanced at them and threw them aside 
without reading them. He then turned his attention to the letters, which 
he opened one after the other with every appearance of bad temper. 
Two or three circulars and a few cards remained. He took up one of the 
circulars at hazard, twisted it up and thrust the end into the fire to light 



b DTSPATCH AND SECRECY. 

his cigar. The flame, as it made its way up the paper, caused it to un- 
fold, and as he took his first puffs the count read these words, which the 
fire lit up and consumed letter by letter : No. 13, Rue des Chantres. 
Dispatch And Secrecy. 

"Ah! it's too much, really!" he cried; "for ever this circular! 
Not a day passes but it is sent to me. One might think it was a prac- 
tical joke that someone's playing on me." 

And, with a gesture of anger, he threw the paper on the fire ; but, as if 
fate had had a hand in the plot, the paper, as it passed rapidly through 
the air, became extinguished, and fell on the guard, where, continuing to 
unfold under the action of the heat, it exhibited the rest of the prospectus : 

LOYAL-FRANC (EUR AND CO. 

Nephew of and successor to Tricoche. 

PRIVATE INQUIRY AGENTS. 
Thirty Years' Success. 

" Certainly the devil's in it ! " cried the count ; " well, it has gone on too 
long already. I must see into it. Let us see what on earth these people 
can want with me." 

He picked up the half-consumed paper, unfolded it, spread it out on the 
table and began to read. The prospectus enumerated with naive cynicism 
the clivers services which the agency offered to undertake: "Inquiries 
in the interests of families, information touching private affairs, judicial 
separations, claims on estates, etc. , careful inquiries as to marriage settle- 
ments, official investigations, private information as to respectability, 
means, occupation ; confidential missions, general information, clients and 
debtors found ; all sorts of documents sought for. Special employes for 
secret surveillance from day to day, for the purpose of verifying suspicions 
and serving at need for the furnishing of proofs and legal evidence." 

Following all these details, Messi-s. Loyal-Fran cceur and Co., "nephew 
of and successor to Tricoche, No. 13, Rue des Chantres, private entrance 
in the Rue Chanoinesse," drew attention to the fact that, "a long ex- 
perience in the law, connections with all the different departments, services 
rendered to all classes of society, and, above all, absolute secrecy," gave 
ground for hope that their offers of service would be kindly accepted. 

" Then it's a regular police bureau ! " said Pringy to himself with a start. 
" Well, they sha'n't find me behindhand ; I'll go and see what they want 
with me." 

He rang. Denis appeared. 

" Go and get me a cab," said the count 

Denis, accustomed to obey passively, left the room without a word. 
Pringy carefully folded up what was left of the prospectus and put it into 
his pocket. He then took a turn or two up and down the room. A feel- 
ing of mistrust flashed across his mind and he stretched out his hand to 
grasp a small revolver lying on a what-not. This movement caused him 
to confront himself in the glass. He smiled with disdain. 

" No," he muttered, " I should never dare to confess it to my comrades 
in Africa." 

There was a knock at the door ; it was Denis ; the cab was waiting. 
The count went downstairs and said to the driver, before shutting the door, 

" No. 13, Rue des Chantres, in the CiteV' 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 7 

II. 

THE LOYAL-FEANCCETJR AGENCY. 

From the Boulevard Haussmann, where the count Uvea, to the Rue des 
Chantres, is a good step. The driver started ill-pleased. But M. de 
Pringy took not the least notice of this fact. Wholly intent on the visit 
that he was about to make, he was endeavouring to form some kind of 
idea in advance of the Loyal-Francceur establishment. In order to embrace 
at the same time so many branches of specialities, there must be numerous 
offices, an army of clerks — 

At last, at the end of half-an-hour, the cab crossed the Pont d'Arcole, 
turned along the Quai-aux-Fleurs, and pulled up opposite the Rue des 
Chantres which branches off from it and which it was necessary to traverse 
on foot. No. 13, which stands almost at the far end of the street, is a 
house belonging to old Paris. The entrance to it is through a carriage-gate 
surmounted by an escutcheon on which the coats-of-arms, having been 
repeatedly painted in, have given place to a paper-merchant's sign-board. 
This individual, whose shop is doubtless full to overflowing, has utilised 
every hole and corner and all the passages. The stairs are crowded with 
bales and packages. On the right hand, in the old offices of the house, a 
joiner plies his trade ; on the left, a scourer exposes his stuff to dry ; below, 
a grindery shop, a varnish store and an artifical flower-maker's work-room. 
Not a sign, not even a metal plate announced M. Loyal-Francceur's agency, 
M. de Pringy wondered for a moment whether he had not made a mistake. 
He took the circular from his pocket. It was certainly the place, No. 13. 
He determined to ask the doorkeeper for information. But it was necessary 
to find his lodge. After a short search he discovered it at the far end of the 
court-yard between the flower-maker's and the leather-merchant's. The 
doorkeeper, a fat woman bedecked with an enormous Madras handker- 
chief, was skimming a saucepan of broth placed on a stove in the middle 
of the lodge. 

" M. Loyal's office ? " asked Pringy. 

" Staircase B, on the right, second floor, third door on the left, in the 
' collidor,' " replied the woman, without turning her head. 

The count, on whom the light began to shine, made his way to staircase 
B, clambered up the stone steps, arrived at the corridor and examined 
the doors. On the third one was nailed a copper plate with these simple 
words : Disputed Claims and Recoveries. 

In spite of the modified wording, this must be the place. The count 
pulled the bell. The sound of deadened footsteps was heard ; the door 
was partly opened and a wrinkled face appeared. It would have been 
difficult at first blush to say whether this face belonged to an individual of 
the masculine or feminine gender : the white, or rather sallow, complexion 
and the absence of beard would have inclined one to vote for the latter ; 
but the close-cut hair and an appearance of baldness on the summit of the 
head favoured the former supposition. 

" What do you want ? " asked a squeaky voice, equally as hybrid as the 
face. 

' ' M. Loyal-Francceur. " 

"Have you been summoned?" returned the mysterious individual 
through the still half-opened door. 



8 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" Yes," said the count, at all hazards. 

" Good, come in," , . , . , , i • • , 

The door was thrown wide open. Upon tins the count had a plain view 
of his questioner. He was a little hump-back, serving at once as an oince- 
boy and clerk, and who, after having gone back to his place on a very high 
stool facing a blackened deal desk covet ed with papers, signed to the count 
to take a seat in an arm-chair. M. de Pringy discovered that he was in a 
room which partook of the character of reception-room, office and ante- 
chamber. At the single window hung curtains of blue rep, concealing the 
panes, which were daubed with white. On the floor a straw carpet, worn 
through in several places. In the middle of the room, on a large mahogany 
table, were displayed law and commercial papers : the Law, the Gazette, 
etc., besides books and portfolios with gilt backs ; on the marble chimney- 
piece a clock in gilt zinc and two bouquets of artificial flowers under globes ; 
running round the room a carved walnut-wood seat. To conclude, to the 
right of the door, at the far end of the room, and matching the clerk's 
desk, a large arm-chair covered with rep similar to that of the curtains. 
It was to this seat, no doubt because of its elegance, that the little hump- 
back motioned the count, who sat down without a word. There was a 
silence of a few minutes, then the clerk, raising his head from his papers, 
inquired : 

" Is it to himself that you want to speak ? " 

"To himself?" 

" Disputed claims or private affairs? " 

"Private affairs." 

" Your letter ? " 

The count took from his pocket the half -burnt prospectus and handed it 
to the clerk. The latter, with a discreetness which did honour to the de- 
vice of the firm, did not even look at it and slipped it into a longitudinal 
slit similar to the opening of a letter-box, which was placed in the wall 
behind him. He then puiled a boll-cord which hung at the side of the 
box. Pringy watched all these formalities with ever-increasing curiosity. 
Highly taken aback at first, he began to be interested in the adventure. 
After a lapse of a few minutes the far door was opened and au insinuating 
voice murmured : 

"Have the goodness to walk in, sir." 

"At last ! " said the count, rising. 



Ill 

IN WHICH THE COUNT AND MONSIEUR LOYAL-FRANCfflUR DO BUSINESS. 

On setting foot in the room into which it needed so many formalities to 
penetrate, Pringy analysed it at a glance. This sanctuary had no very 
striking features about it. It was a mixture of the loud taste of a middle- 
class drawing-room and the formal private room of a business man. A 
sofa and chairs in red velvet, a round table, what-nots loaded with nick- 
nacks of trifling value, statuettes of bronzed zinc and flowered vases of 
tinted glass, oleographs in enormous massive frames — e very wh ere showiness 
and absence of taste. In the midst of all this stood a large black bureau and a 
gigantic set of pigeon-holes reaching to the ceiling, and crammed from top 
to bottom with cards alphabetically arranged and held in their places with 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. » 

iron rods secured by padlocks. Behind the bureau, in a leathern arm-chair, 
Monsieur Loyal-Francceur sat in waiting. 

The individual was in keeping with the room. He was an old man with 
long white hair falling in ringlets about his head like a wig ; reaching almost 
from one curl to the other, a large pair of spectacles concealed his eyebrows 
and eyes. He was clean-shaven and wore a very high collar, confined by a 
white cravat, which went three times round his neck. This was all that 
was to be seen of him, for the rest of his body was covered with an enormous 
red dressing-gown with yellow flowers. A red velvet smoking cap covered 
with embroidery and adorned with a large gold tassel completed his 
costume. 

Loyal half rose from his chair, and, as the hump-back had done, motioned 
his visitor to be seated. The latter complied. 

Loyal examined him for a minute. 

" Might I ask to what circumstance I owe the honour of your visit? " he 
asked at length, in a high-pitched voice. 

" To the desire of knowing what you yourself want with me," replied 
Pringy. " For several months past you have inundated me with your 
prospectuses." 

" We certainly do send a good many out ; it is the only means of drawing 
on us the attention of those whom we are anxious to secure as clients." 

"Then you must be especially anxious to secure me, for your reminders 
have been almost daily. Unfortunately I'm afraid we can't do business 
together." 

"How do you know that, monsieur le comte ? " 

Pringy started. 

" You know me, then ? " he asked. 

"Not in the slightest degree, but the wrappers of our circulars being 
generally attached to the printed matter by the postage stamp, to keep 
it from slipping out, part of your address — your name and title — had ad- 
hered to the burnt paper that you handed me just now. In this way I 
know that I have the honour of speaking to Monsieur le comte de Pringy." 

Although obviously annoyed, the count could raise no objection ; he 
contented himself with repeating : 

"Then, sir, you must only be the more certain that I have no occasion 
for your services. I am a retired officer, rich enough — " 

" One is never rich enough," interrupted the agent. 

•' That is a question of ambition," returned the count drily. "For my 
part I find my fortune ample — " 

" Even if you continue to lose at cards ? " 

" What ! then you had me watched before writing to me ? " cried the 
count angrily 

" There, there, don't be upset, monsieur le comte," said the old man, in 
a concilating tone. " No, we did not watch you, we never watch anyone, 
and as 1 have been writing to you — as you yourself say — for several months 
past, and was absolutely ignorant of the day of your visit, I have not been 
amusing myself by letting any men wear themselves out on your track just 
for the love of the thing. No. It happens that I have numerous clients 
in your club, friends, I may say, good friends, and one of them came and 
paid me a visit this morning and spoke to me of your bad luck last night. 
That is all. Chance brings strange things to pass, sometimes. Ha ! ha ! 
ha!" 

And Loyal-Francceur, throwing himself back in his chair, twisted his 



10 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

thumbs demurely, whilst a hearty laugh caused thirty-two w hite and point 
ed teeth to appear. Pringy felt ill at ease in the presence of this man. 
Although he had nothing to reproach himself with, neither in the past nor 
the present, although he knew no vulnerable point where he could be attacked 
or held, he had a vague suspicion of danger, of a trap. He who, sabre in 
hand, had thrown himself on Arab as on Prussian, without regard to 
numbers, he who had never shrunk from a duel, absurd and useless though 
it might have been, confessed to himself now that a strange feeling was 
creeping over him. He would have given much to have been gone or never 
to have come. 

"Then," continued M. Loyal-Francceur, "it was really from pure 
curiosity that you took the trouble to call on me ? " 

" From pure curiosity ; yes." 

" You have no law-suit of any kind on hand ? Your debtors pay well, 
and you have no creditors to appease ? You have no trouble with any out- 
standing legacy — in one word, you have no need of our services ? My 
sincere congratulations, my dear sir, and, at the same time, my unfeigned 
regret. I should have been happy to serve you. But what is put off is 
not lost. Some day the position of things may change. In that case take 
care of my circulars, or rather, allow me to send you one from time to time." 

The count made a sign of dissent. 

"You will thank me for them one of these days, you will see." 

"I don't think so." 

" The lion should not despise the mouse. If my habits did not forbid me 
to make a bet — " 

Pringy interrupted him. A sudden idea had struck him. He determined 
to test the science of this man, whose loquacity and conceit disgusted him. 
He fancied that he had to deal with one of those characters who boast that 
their remedy is a panacea. The big box only was wanting ; the costume 
was already complete. 

" Well, then, sir, since you are so clever — " 

Loyal-Francoeur bowed modestly. 

' ' The fruits of several years of labour and good connections," he remarked. 

"Certainly. Well, I will take advantage of my visit to ask you for 
some information." 

" At your service. Information, legal, commercial, private affairs, 
marriage — " 

" Don't recite your prospectus, I have read it already, you know. It is 
information with regard to a marriage that I want." 

" For yourself ? " 

" K"o, for one of my friends." 

" In that case it will be more expensive." 

" Oh, nonsense ! " 

" Well, you see, for yourself, that is almost confidential. For a stranger, 
you will have to impart it at second hand ; that might compromise us." 

"You can set your mind at rest as to that," said Pringy smiling, and 
beginning to think that he had to deal with a simple imposter, whose only 
use was to throw dust in the eyes of fools, " I shall not say that I have 
my information from you. " 

" Your word of honour ? " 

"My word." 

"Speak, then." 

"But the terms?" 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



11 



"I will let you know them before replying." 

"Very well. My intimate friend, M. Paul Clairac, is to marry, in 
a fortnight's time, the only daughter of Colonel de Rieumes. I should 
like, in Paul's interest — ■" 

"A charming fellow, by-the-bye," interrupted M. Loyal-Francceur. 

" You know him ? " cried the count, astonished. 

" I have met him occasionally iu society." 

"Ah, you go into society, you ?" 

" Ha ! ha ! you say that, my dear sir, as if I was an absolute pariah. 
Why, certainly I go into society, from time to time ; I have connections 
everywhere. How should I get my information ? " 

" Granted. Then you know Paul Clairac ? 

" A charming fellow, I tell you, and with a bright future. He will have 
a medal this year, for certain, and collectors are looking after his pictures 
already ; I'm sorry that I did not profit by the time when they were to be 
had for an old song, and a favour to him into the bargain. Well, what is 
done is done." 

And M. Loyal-Francceur sighed. 

"Paul Clairac, I was saying, is about to marry Mademoiselle de 
Rieumes. I should like some information — private, confidential as you say 
— as to this young lady." 

The count looked steadily at Loyal-Francceur, as if to watch the effect 
which his demand had on him. He expected some evasive reply. No 
such thing. The inquiry agent settled his glasses on his eyes with a move- 
ment of his hand and replied with assurance : 

" Nothing is easier, sir." 

" You don't say so ! And will it take much time ? " 

" Hardly ten minutes." 

" Splendid ! and it will cost me ? " 

" Two hundred francs exactly." 

"He's going to tell me some cock-and-bull story," thought Pringy, 
taking out his purse. "He is not a charlatan. He's simply a fortune- 
teller. It is only that his tariff is rather higher than the somnambulists at 
a fair. — There sir," he continued aloud, placing ten louis on the cover of 
the bureau. 

M. Loyal Francceur began by sweeping the gold into his pocket, 
then he opened a secret drawer, took out a little note-book, which he 
turned over, replaced it, and, with a little key which hung from his watch- 
chain, opened the bars which secured the portfolios placed in the pigeon- 
holes behind him. He selected one, ran through it, as he had done the 
small note-book, and returned it to its place in the pigeon-hole, which he 
locked as before. The count watched curiously all these proceedings, 
which seemed to him merely a blind to mystify fools. He had not the 
slightest belief in this directory of characters which the inquiry agent 
professed to possess and pretended to consult before his eyes. 

"Well?" he asked, when the portfolio had been duly locked up; 
' ' have you found anything to satisfy me ? 

" Better than I thought." 

" Ha ! ha ! And what, may I ask ? 

" If I told you a fact, you would ask for proofs. Very well, count ; 
fact and proofs, I am going to put you in the way of possessing 
both, at the same time, by means of yourself, and in an unmistakable 
maimer." 



12 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"And what are the necessary steps ? " 

"A little journey — of a few hours — which, in spite of the time of the 
year, is a pleasant task. Do you know where Charly is ? " 

"Not in the least." 

" Well, I will tell you. You take the Eastern Railway, the Strasbourg 
line. At a distance of two hours from Paris is a station called Nogent 
l'Artaud. You get out there and take a little conveyance which crosses a 
pretty little suspension bridge and takes you to Charly, a charming 
village — " 

" And, once at Charly — ? " 

" Once at Charly, you will ask for Madame Derousse. She is by pro- 
fession a nurse, everyone knows her — " 

" Very well. And. what will Madame Derousse tell me ? " 

"Make a note of her name ; you will forget it. Good. Now, having 
found her, ask to see the register of birth of the child which was entrusted 
to her five months ago, little Jean- Victor ; above all, ask her who pays for 
the baby's keep and who is the handsome young man who interests him- 
self in it." 

The explanation of this was not far to seek. Accordingly, Pringy grew 
purple with rage. 

" This is an infamous accusation on your part against Mademoiselle de 
Pvieumes ! " he cried. 

"I! Heaven forbid ! I accuse no one. I say nothing. You asked me 
for information. I put you in the way of procuring it. When you have 
seen, it will be for you to draw your own conclusions. For the matter of 
that, you are not obliged to make the journey. After all, it is not you that 
are going to be married, is it ? " 

" But if what you tell me is true, this girl is a terribly bad lot." 

" There, there ! monsieur le comte, you exaggerate. In the first place, 
I have said nothing. I want you to see it for yourself. And then, how 
many girls are married under these circumstances. ' What the eye does 
not see, the heart does not grieve after.' It is sometimes a guarantee for 
the future." 

The count did not listen to this philosophical consolation. He had risen 
and was pacing the room feverishly. A little bell at M. Loyal-Francceur's 
side rang twice. It was the hump-back announcing a fresh visitor. The 
inquiry-agent got up. 

" Excuse me, monsieur le comte," said he, with an obsequiousness which 
was not without a touch of irony, " but if you have nothing further to ask 
me, I would draw your attention to the fact that other clients await me." 

" Quite so," said Pringy, taking his hat, and walking towards the door. 

"Excuse me once more," continued Loyal-Francoeur, "you will en- 
counter someone in that direction. One must be quite unobserved here. 
You know, dispatch and secrecy /" And lifting up the skirt of his beautiful 
flowered dressing-gown, M. Loyal-Francoeur opened a little door concealed 
beneath a curtain in a corner of his room. The count hastened to enter it, 
whilst the inquiry-agent, making him a respectful bow, launched after him, 
as a kind of Parthian shaft, his last injunction : 

" Charly, Madame Derousse ! — don't forget the name ! " 

Then, when he had heard the sound of his footsteps die away in the 
passage, he went and opened the other door. A woman, hooded and veiled, 
entered. 

" Who was it that was here ? " she asked. 



DISPATCH AND SECEECY. 



13 



"Someone," said Loyal-Francceur, rubbing his hands, "someone who's 
going to bring grist to our mill." 

The young woman took off her veil and fur mantle, which she threw on 
a chair, and sat down. She was a magnificent creature ; hardly thirty. 
Hers was the splendid carnation of the Southern woman. The loose 
morning robe which enveloped it, set off her delicate and shapely figure. 
Her black hair, with little or no fastening, fell in coils on her shoulders. 
She looked steadily at Loyal-Francceur, and, in spite of his glasses, the 
latter cast down his eyes beneath the glance of fire. 

" A fresh agent ? " she asked, after a moment's silence. 

"Better than that; a client; a man who is setting to work as an 
amateur. In two hours he will be at Charly." 

" And you are not afraid of any imprudence." 

The inquiry-agent laughed a dry laugh. 

"It is he who is taking the step," said he, " he alone is responsible for 
it." 

" That is true. I am satisfied as to that, but — ■" 

She stopped. The agent waited. There was silence — 

" But Pedrillo ? " she resumed. 

Loyal-Francceur took up a telegraphic message from his desk. This 
message was couched in the following terras : 

"Paris, from Saint Maud, 1927—21 November, 11. 15. p.m. Loyal, 13, 
Rue Chantres, Paris. Have sent off goods bought ; you receive carriage 
f ree. — Durand. " 

"Which means to say ? " 

" Which means to say that M. Pedrillo will trouble you no further, and 
that the affair has succeeded without leaving us anything to fear." 

" And the papers ? " asked again the young woman, growing pale. 

" I have had no news as yet. But didn't you tell me that he still had 
them on him ? " 

" They never left him, not even when he slept." 

" Very well, in that case the thing is done." 

"Oh! free, free at last!" she cried, "rid of this burden, this fear, 
this dagger for ever menacing my breast. I have done what I ought to 
have done. Come, fate is for me ! " 

Drawing from her pocket a roll of bank-notes, she threw it to Loyal- 
Francceur. 

" The rest in return for the papers," she said. 

And hurriedly snatching up her mantle and hat, she rushed out like a 
mad woman. The agent watched her go. Then, opening his flowered 
dressing-gown, he drew from it a pocket-book stuffed with letters, looked at 
it, and began to laugh. 

" It is heavy," he muttered, " but it's worth at least it's weight in bank- 
notes." 

IV- 

THE STRANGE CORPSE. 

That evening M. Manuel, commissary of the Saint-X — district, was in his 
private room, putting on a white cravat as he dictated a report to his 
secretary. All at once three low taps were heard at the door. Almost 
everyone knofls how the rooms in a commissary's office in Paris are 



14 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

arranged. It is according to a certain order. There is firstly the common 
entrance-room, which is open to the public, and where are to be seen the 
inspectors and the clerk : oaken tables, oaken seats for the prisoners, 
earthenware stove. Then comes the secretary's office, the first halting- 
place of prosecutors and prisoners ; stained oak desk, armchair, cherry- 
wood ahairs, earthenware stove. Finally, the commissary's private room, 
a sanctuary which possesses, or should possess, a second exit, and where 
the vulgar crowd can only enter by traversing the two other rooms : 
more elegant furniture, mahogany desk, chairs in green velvet, bookcase, 
chimneypiece with mirror and clock, carpet, bell-cord always within 
reach. Now, as it was past six o'clook, and as the offices had been closed 
for the last hour, M. Manuel had every reason to be much surprised that 
he should be disturbed in his private room. 

" Who the deuce can it be at this hour, and how is it that the orders 
that I gave the inspector have been infringed ? " he cried, angrily. ' : I had 
given strict orders that I was not to be disturbed ! I must finish my 
report, and I have to take my wife and daughter to the Opera, where my 
colleague of the Madeleine has lent me'Jiis box." 

The secretary went and unbolted the door, which he half opened. The 
inspector thrust his head in. 

" A gentleman who insists on seeing the commissary." 

" You hadn't closed the office, then ? " 

" Yes, but he saw a light and hammered until 1 opened the door." 

" You should have told him that he could not see me." 

" He says that he — " 

" Have you his name, at any rate ? " 

" Yes, sir ; here is his card." 

"I was certain of it!" cried the commissary. "Look, 'Gratien 
Voiville, journalist.' Another journalist who has got wind of our affair 
and is on the track. These fellows are beyond everything ! " 

" But where do they get their information from?" asked the secretary, 
dumbfounded. 

"How do I know! They are like crows; the corpse attracts them. 
At any rate, this one will not have a very rich prey. It's impossible to 
imagine anything more commonplace." 

" So commonplace that I shall give myself the pleasure of witnessing his 
disgust. Show the gentleman in." 

The reporter, for a reporter he was, entered. He was a man of about 
thirty, dark, wearing a small moustache and having a hooked nose, a sharp 
glance, and intelligent features. He was enveloped in a great brown 
ulster which entirely concealed his other clothes. 

"I must make a thousand apologies, M. le Commissaire," said he at 
once, "but you are engaged at present with a case which I consider a curious 
one, and, as it took place under the open sky, I think there is no reason 
why the details should not be made public." 

"To what do you refer, sir?" asked M. Manuel, with a touch of 
sarcasm. 

" To the body that was found this morning on the railway line." 

' : And you would like some information ? " 

" If it is agreeable to you." 

"Good gracious! sir, there is no reason why it should be otherwise. 
It's the simplest thing in the world, a simple suicide, the simplest of 
suicides. " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



15 



"Suicide?" 

"Certainly." 

" Are you quite sure of that ? " 

In reply, M. Manuel stretched out his hand, took up the sheet of paper 
on which his secretary was writing the report, and held it out to the 
journalist. The latter threwarapid glance overitand replaced it on the desk. 

" Then, M. le Commissaire," said he, " you and I differ." 

"You don't say so," said the magistrate, in a bantering voice. 

" Alas ! yes. I believe, or I may say I am certain, that murder has been 
committed." 

The decisive tone in which this was said made the commissary start. 
Overcoming this movement of surprise, he asked, without relinquishing his 
chaffing manner : 

" And on what, sir, do you base this opinion ? " 

" On my own observations," replied the reporter, coolly. 

"Would it be impertinent to ask you for an explanation ? " 

" Not at all, M. le Commissaire ; your kindness in receiving me has been 
too great to allow me to refuse to enlighten you." 

"Enlighten me, enlighten me, my dear sir," cried the commissary, 
with feigned eagerness. And he gave his secretary a knowing look, as 
if to hint to him not to interpose in the mystification which he was prepar- 
ing for a rash journalist. The secretary winked and affected to be absorbed 
in his document, so as to be able to enjoy the joke at his ease. 

"Now, my dear sir," said M. Manuel, "I am all attention; what 
important observations have you made ? " 

"In the first place, sir," said the reporter, without appearing to notice 
this by -play, "I was struck by the position of the body." 

" Ah ! you have seen the body ? " 

" I was present when you arrived, and I kept aside, so as not to be in 
the way. Moreover, my own observations were concluded." 

" Ah ! you make observations ? " 

"Always. It is the only way to get at the truth. All your colleagues 
are not as pleasant as you. Accordingly, I have been in the habit of 
making use of my own eyes, reserving to myself the right of modifying my 
conclusions later on." 

" That is a wise plan. But not always an easy one." 

' ' That depends. This morning I had only to appear on the spot. At 
other times it needs cunning. For the Passage Saulnier Crime I had to 
pass half a day with a neighbour of Maria Fellerath's. At Bobigny I was 
with the diggers, at the end of old There's garden. In the Rue Fontaine 
I had to go and pump six jugs of water in the yard in order to be able to 
examine at my ease the scene of the crime—" 

" Ah ! " muttered the commissary to himself. " But continue, my dear 
sir ; you were saying that your own observations — ? " 

" Differ absolutely from yours," replied the journalist, casting a glance 
on the report. " In the first place, sir, the body was not propped against 
the wall ; a plate-layer placed it there. When it was discovered it was 
lying on the left side. But that's nothing ; what follows is more serious. 
You say that the weapon with which he killed himself has been discovered ; 
for my part, 1 don't believe it." 

" What ! but he was still holding the discharged pistol." 

" Yes, he held the weapon ' in his clenched hand,' as we say in our pars. 
Well M. le Commissaire, I deny it. " 



16 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"Oh, come ! " cried M. Manuel and his secretary in chorus, "you deny 
the existence of the pistol ? " 

" Not the pistol, certainly, since here it is," said the reporter, pointing 
to the weapon on the desk. "Let us understand one another. What I 
deny is that it caused his death." 

"But-" 

"And you will be of my opinion, when I have given you the reasons 
which make me say this." 

" I ask no better ; go on." 

" Well, question No. 1. At what distance do you think the shot was 
fired ? " 

" Why, at half-arm's length -fifteen inches, perhaps." 

" Very good. Then, how do you account for the fact that the skin is not 
blackened by the powder ? And especially with a pistol like this, which is 
as large as a blunderbuss ? " 

" Ah ! to be sure, I never thought of that," said the commissary, visibly 
annoyed. 

"And the wound, have you compared it with the calibre of the 
weapon ? " 

" Well, what is the result of this comparison ? " 

"It is conclusive: the wound is clean and regular, the frontal bone is 
pierced by a tiny hole. But the bullet must, in rotating, have caused 
great havoc in the cerebral cavity. " 

"Ah!" 

"With this pistol, on the contrary," continued the journalist, "there 
would be an enormous hole ; the bone would be smashed, as if by some 
blunt instrument. I will bet any sum that at the -posi mortem it will be 
found that the ball is from a revolver." 

"You are certainly a veritable Lecoq !" cried the commissary, half in 
earnest, half envious. 

" And I draw my conclusions. The shot was not fired from the pistol. 
The man was killed by a point-blank shot from a revolver. Therefore, 
murder and not suicide ! " 

"Right, quite right," said M. Manuel, who had become thoughtful. 
" But are you sure you are not mistaken ? " 

"Examine the body with me. Where is it? 

"At the Morgue. The deuce! I'll have it looked into," cried the 
magistrate, ringing the bell violently. " Peraud, go and fetch me a cab," he 
called out to the inspector, who had hurried to the spot, quite alarmed. 
" And at the same time, go and tell Doctor Lardit that I want him at once; 
my secretary will bring him to us. Come, sir* come with me. I want to 
verify your observations without a moment's delay." 

" And the ladies you are expecting ! " objected the secretary, quite taken 
aback. 

" Let them go to the opera alone. I have something else to do than to 
go and listen to Faure. Sajwisti ! if this gentleman has not been telling us 
some fairy-tale, I was going to make a pretty mess of things." 

The inspector, PeYaud, appeared, having ordered a cab. The com- 
missary and the reporter went out by the private door and took their 
seats. 

" To the Morgue ! " said the magistrate to the driver. 

The cab started off at full trot, 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 17 



TO THE MORGUE ! 

The Morgue of to-day is a very different establishment from the two 
which preceded it. It is no longer the old vault of the Petit-Chatelet, 
where the bodies could only be viewed through a pane of glass ; it is no 
longer the old, legendary Morgue standing in the Marche-Neuf scalding- 
house, whose pestiferous exhalations rendered the whole neighbourhood 
uninhabitable. 

It is a decent-looking building, clean, well-kept, and which, by a praise- 
worthy coquettishness, does its very best to cause its sinister purpose to be 
forgotten. It is not confined, as one might be tempted to believe, to the 
well-known room, where the bodies are exposed. This room, in fact, only 
forms a small part of the building. It often happens that the slabs ex- 
posed to the public are empty, whilst there are numerous corpses within. 
On hearing M. Manuel's ring, the attendant who sleeps at night in a little 
room in the right wing showed his head at the window. Recognising the 
magistrate, he came and opened the door. 

" Ah, it's you, Arthur," said the commissary, recognising the attendant. 
" Where is the body of the man I sent here to-night ? " 

" It is in the large room, M. le Commissaire." 

"Take us to it." 

Arthur nodded. 

"Do you wish to pass through the office?" he asked. "If so, you 
must wait whilst I go and open the doors which are fastened on the in- 
side." 

" No, let us go as quickly as possible," replied M. Manuel, walking to- 
wards the right-hand door. 

This door is that of the amphitheatre attendants, of which there are two 
during the day, who take it in turns to pass the night in a little bed 
near their room. After having crossed this room, the three men passed 
through the apartment where are kept, neatly folded and ticketed, the 
clothing of the corpses. They passed from there to the "identified" 
room, and finally into the great hall, into which the vans can penetrate, 
and where are at first deposited the corpses, to be later on undressed, 
washed and searched. On one of the dozen black tables, between a young 
girl who hail been drowned and a slater who had fallen from a scaffolding, 
was the body of the man found on the line. He was completely naked, with 
the exception of the traditional leather apron, fastened round the waist. 
On to his head trickled a tiny stream of water, which, running over his 
whole body, escaped down a grating at the far end of the room. He was a 
man of about forty, a fine fellow, greyish about the temples, but possessing 
a fine head of black hair cut military fashion. In the left temple was the 
clean hole, just surrounded by a small blue circle which the ball had made 
on entering. The reporter pointed to this hole, without saying a word. 
The commissary, at the first glance, was convinced. 

" Yes, you are right," said he. "Where the devil were my brains? 
That fool of a docter, too, misled me. It's his business and not mine to 
examine wounds. I should like to see what sort of a face he'll make." 

Just then there was another ring at the bell. 

" Ah ! here he is. We shall see what he'll say." 



18 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

The attendant went and opened the door and came back with the 
secretary only. 

" W> 11, where's the doctor ? " asked M. Manuel impatiently. 

" He was out. They told me that he would not be home till late." 

" Heaven help him ! He won't be a divisional surgeon for long." 

"Well," interrupted the reporter, "you see, M. le Commissaire, my 
visit was not so prejudicial after all." 

" Prejudicial," cried M. Manuel warmly, "prejudicial! Why, sir, 
Providence must have sent you ! If it had not been for you, I should per- 
haps have mulled a splendid case — yes, splendid. It will be splendid, by 
heaven ! if you will assist me. We must know who the victim is, and 
from the precautions which were taken to divert suspicion, it is worth 
knowing. The murderer is a clever man. No matter ! we shall discover 
him, I'm persuaded, I'm certain." 

" Unless," said the reporter coolly, " the case is taken away from you 
and given to the Public Prosecutor." 

This remark fell like a cold shower-bath on M. Manuel's enthusiasm. 

"Ah, yes," he growled, "yes, the Public Prosecutor; quite so. He 
takes everything ; they have ten, fifteen, twenty cases all at once. As if 
one was not enough. And then, when he can't find anything out, slap ! 
bang ! the case is ' classified,' as they call it ; that is to say, it's shoved 
away in a drawer and no more is heard of it. Well, that won't prevent me 
from making every effort, and, as I said before, if you like to lend me a 
hand—" 

" I don't object, although it's not in my line ; I made a few remarks — " 

" A few remarks ! Why, you have the eye of a Canler. Come along, 
my dear sir, come along, I have an idea ; we can talk it over on the way." 

They were going out, when the attendant stopped them. 

" M. le Commissaire," said he, " I found something as I was undressing 
the man." 

"In his pockets ? ' 

" No, in the lining of his trousers. It was securely sewn in. The 
rustling of the paper—" 

'It is a paper, then? " cried the commissary eagerly. " A paper which 
perhaps will give us the answer to the puzzle." 

' ' I don't think so, for there is no writing on it. But you can look for 
yourself, for here it is." 

The man took a small card from off the table and handed it to the 
magistrate. The latter, on looking at it, seemed disappointed. The card, 
in fact, had nothing remarkable about it ; it was simply one of those pieces 
of cardboard such as players at roulette or trente-et-quarante use, and 
which serve to mark the series, either simply to make a note of past 
throws, or more often to work out combinations. This card, then, could 
only suggest one thing, that the dead man was a gambler, and in the first 
hypothesis of suicide, it would have supported that view. But since he 
had verified the reporter's statements, M. Manuel was satisfied that he 
had to deal with a crime. Accordingly, it was with this idea that he 
sought for some corroboration. 

"He is a gambler," said he, "some man who has been enticed into one 
of those hells with which Paris swarms, and whom his companions have 
assassinated in order to get back the money that he had won from them. " 

" That is likely enough," said Voiville. 

" We must make inquiries in the ranks of the gamblers. Unfortunately 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



19 



in spite of police raids, we know but little about these folks. And, 
besides, all these fellows hang together. But this man did not look to me. 
to belong to the upper classes. What have you done with his clothes, 
Arthur ? " 

"Here they are, M. le Commissaire ; we put them on one side to be 
washed, like everything else that comes in here." 

"Let us see. Oh! look here, M. le journaliste. Look at this! A 
tattered blouse, frayed trousers, shoes — hallo ! brand new patent leather 
shoes, probably a recent purchase at the 'pop shop,' or else at old 
Lempereur's, Rue des Rosiers, Bohemia's bootmaker." 

" Will you allow me to make one more observation, M. le commissaire? " 
asked Voiville. 

" What ! two, three, ten, if you like." 

" Very well, look at the hands and feet of the corpse." 

"Why?" 

' ' Have you seen many Bohemians with nails like this ? " 

" Saperlotte ! it's true what you say." 

" The fact is," said Arthur, "that among our customers we don't have 
many swells like this ; I had noticed it already, and I intended to draw 
the attention of the commissary to it when this gentleman forestalled me." 

"Do you think, then, that this man belongs to a higher class than his 
clothes denote ? " 

"Most certainly." 

" Then they have stripped him of his clothes and put on others. The 
corpse has been disguised ? " 

" That is sometimes a more certain method than cutting it in pieces. 
Look at this case. Looking at his wretched appearance, the first con- 
clusion was suicide." 

" That's true enough. Then we have a better chance, perhaps, 
establishing his identity." 

"Of course." 

" Excuse me," remarked the secretary, who began to be jealous of the 
reporter's success, " but there is another version which might be the 
correct one. This man may be a former aristocrat who has fallen on evil 
days because of losses at play, and who, in his misery, may have retained 
the habit of attending to his personal appearance." 

" Ah ! my dear fellow, don't throw cold water on my triumph," cried 
M. Manuel ; " leave me at least the hope that we are on the right track. 
This gentleman, up to the present, has been quite right. We owe him too 
much to ignore what he says now." 

The secretary, obviously vexed, was silent. 

"This gentleman is right perhaps," said Voiville quickly, not wishing to 
make an enemy of the young man. " But, ruined or disguised, this man 
was a gambler, and a fashionable gambler. It is therefore in those circles, 
in card-rooms, clubs, at Monaco, that he must be sought. " 

"And we shall succeed, rny friend," cried M. Manuel with enthusiasm, 
"From to-day we must set to work on this case and never leave it till we 
have captured the murderer." 

"Excuse me," replied the reporter, smiling. "Unfortunately that is 
not all that I have to do. And, by-the-bye," he added, taking out his 
watch, " it's nine o'clock ; I must run off to the jeweller's ball, which takes 
place to-night, and of which I have promised an account to my paper, and, 
in addition to that, I have to go to the Press Club about the account of a 



20 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

duel which is to take place shortly. Till to-morrow, then, my dear sir; go 
on with your investigations ; I will come and have another talk with you." 
A cab was passing. He hailed it and drove off whilst M. Manuel and 
his secretary got into the cab which had brought them. 

VI. 

THAT WORTHY M. LOYAL. 

We left M. Loyal-Francceur examining the papers contained in the 
pocket-book. This examination appeared to please him, for, after the lapse 
of a moment, he rose and opened the door of the waiting-room. The little 
hump- backed clerk was still absorbed in his work. 

" You can shut up the office and go, Isidore," said the inquiry-agenfc. " I 
have some work to do and can see no one. " 

The hump-back made no reply, but a smile lit up his pale face. Then 
he got up to obey. Satisfied that his orders would be executed, M. Loyal- 
Francceur returned to his room, locked the door of communication and put 
the key in his pocket. This done, he began again to peruse the papers. 
There were a great many of them, and M. Loyal-Francceur devoted a great 
deal of time to each, his face was beaming with joy. Suddenly the clock 
struck five. 

' ' Saperlotte ! " said the inquiry-agent, ' ' I am forgetting myself, and I 
have some more business to do to-day." 

He got up, walked to the sofa, mounted on it, without regard to the 
beautiful red leather, lifted up a picture hanging on the wall and uncovered 
a tiny little hole in the middle of a flower on the pattern of the paper. 
Into this hole he fitted a key which hung on his watch-chain. A large 
iron door turned on its hinges, carrying with it the picture and displaying 
pigeon-holes, also of iron. They contained valuables of all kinds, jewellery, 
weapons, papers, and on the top shelf a collection of wigs on wooden heads. 
M. Loyal-Francceur began by placing the precious pocket-book in the cup- 
board, as well as the packet of bank-notes which he had received that 
morning. Then he took off his white wig and his large glasses. This pro- 
duced a complete metamorphosis. M. Loyal-Francceur was a man of about 
thirty-five or forty, with red hair, closely cut, and growing down very low 
over his forehead, little green eyes, always on the move, and throwing out, 
like those of cats, phosphorescent flashes. It was easy to see why he dis- 
guised himself, for, seen thus, he was hideous, repulsive, terrible. This 
only lasted for a second. M. Loyal-Francceur had taken from the cupboard 
a pepper-and-salt wig, much less ample than the white one, and had placed 
it on his head. Small, gold-rimmed spectacles replaced his goggles. He re- 
moved his dressing-gown and put on a long, well-padded frock-coat. He 
looked now like a simple country notary or a suburban bourgeois in his 
Sunday best. A fashionable black hat, well polished, and a large umbrella, 
carefully folded, completed his costume. 

M. Loyal-Francceur took a final glance at himself in a looking-glass, 
poened the door at which he had shown the Comte de Pringy out, and 
stepped out into the passage. But instead of making use of the grand 
staircase, he walked down the passage until he came to some narrow back- 
stairs. This was the "private entrance in the Rue Chanoinesse." On 
setting foot in the street, M. Loyal-Francoeur, like a prudent man, threw 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 21 

a rapid glance right and left. The street was deserted, as was also, for the 
matter of that, the whole neighbourhood. Reassured by this cursory ex- 
amination, M. Loyal -Francceur walked straight towards the Rue du Cloitre- 
Notre-Dame, passed through the precincts and crossed the Petit-Pont. 
His walk was the calm and tranquil one of a peaceable citizen going to 
business. The Petit-Pont crossed, he amused himself for a moment by 
looking at the books of the stall-keepers, who were closing for the night, 
then he walked along the Rue Saint-Jacques until he came to the Rue des 
Feuillan tines. There he stopped before an old tumble-down house, satis- 
fied himself, with a final glance of suspicion, that no one was following him, 
and entered. He was evidently a frequent visitor to the house, for he did 
not halt at the porter s lodge. He crossed the first court-yard, ascended, 
without hesitating, a very dark staircase, and on the third floor gave three 
taps at the door which faced him. Shuffling steps were heard, the door 
opened, and an old woman, modestly but very cleanly dressed, appeared. 
On perceiving the visitor, she made a gesture of joyful surprise. 

' ' M. Loyal ! how good of you to take the trouble to come and pay us a 
visit ! " 

"What trouble, my dear Madame Borin ? you ought to say pleasure. 
For it is really, I can assure you, a very great pleasure to leave behind for 
a moment the turmoil of business, to come and gather fresh strength 
amongst honest people like you. And, by-the-bye, how are things going 
on here, Madame Borin ? " 

"Still very well, thanks to you, thanks to your kindness, our generous 
benefactor. " 

" There, there, you want to make me blush, by saying that on the stairs, 
so that all the neighbours can hear," said M. Loyal, enjoying a good- 
natured laugh. " You would do better to offer me a chair. Your street is 
so badly paved. " 

"Ah ! good gracious ! that's true, wherever are my wits ?" said the 
good woman, ushering the inquiry-agent in, and shutting the door. It was 
one of those modest dwellings inhabited by workmen or clerks, which are 
so common in that neighbourhood, and which comprise three rooms and a 
kitchen stowed away in a corner. The one which served as dining-room 
was very modestly furnished, but everything was scrupulously clean. 
Upon the table, prepared for the evening meal, was displayed a cloth of 
dazzling whiteness. Porcelain plates, and dishes of metal which shone 
like silver, completed the arrangements. 

" You must please to excuse me," continued the good woman, " but you 
see, M. Loyal, I am so happy, my heart is so full of joy at seeing you 
again, you to whom we owe our lives, our honour, our happiness even — " 

" There, there, behold me changed into a good fairy. You'll see they'll 
give me the Montyon prize, because, happening one day to come across 
some honest folk in embarrassment, I helped them out of it, and moreover, 
because, finding all ready to my hand a clever, handy, and hardworking 
fellow, I took possession of him, in order to make of him an excellent 
servant, whom I can trust like myself. And, talking about that, where is 
our dear Victor ? " 

" Not back from the office yet." 

" And yet I told him never to stop after five. That boy works too hard. 
You'll see, he'll force me to raise his salary at the end of the year." 

And M. Loyal, who had seated himself in an arm-chair, winked know- 
ingly. 



f>2 DISPATCH AND SECRECT. 

" Good M. Loyal ! your delicacy again, ever announcing to us a fresh 
act of kindness ; what can we do to prove to you our gratitude? " 

' ' Am I not paid, I repeat, over and above the service which your son 
does me, by the pleasure of seeing you happy and tranquil, you and your 
charming daughter ? But Mademoiselle Louise is not here either ? " 

" She is gone to take her embroidery home, and perhaps she has called 
at the office for her brother. It's that that has made them late. Ah, I 
can hear them coming up now." 

Hurried footsteps, in fact, were heard on the stairs. The key turned in 
the lock, and a clear voice gave vent to a joyous exclamation. 

" M. Loyal ! how nice ! " 

And a charming young girl of sixteen, fair and rosy, threw herself into 
the arms of the inquiry-agent, who had risen to receive her. He kissed 
her forehead paternally. 

" Still pretty and gay, my little Louise, 1 ' said he, putting on one of those 
insipid smiles which were familiar to him, " and your brother? " 

"Why, he's coming." 

" Here I am, M. Loyal," said Victor, who had remained standing at the 
door. 

Victor Borin was a man of about thirty, rather above the average height, 
thin and slightly built. He wore his hair cut short, but his chestnut beard 
was allowed to grow full. Though he was fairly good-looking, there was 
noticeable about him a certain amount of indecision, of hesitation, which, 
at first glance, was apt to prejudice anyone against him. M. Loyal was 
the first to hold out his hand. Victor seemed loth to take it. 

"Well, my son," said Madame Borin, in a tone of tender reproach, 
"what are you thinking of? This good M. Loyal, our benefactor, your 
second father, does us the honour to come and see us, and you greet him 
like that ! " 

" Pardon me, mother, but I was rather surprised, and — " 

"And so was I," interrupted Louise, laughing, "but I rushed at M. 
Loyal's neck directly." 

" Because you love me, my little Louise." 

" Oh, yes, with all my heart," said the young girl. 

" Whilst that sly Victor is a monster of ingratitude who detests me on 
the sly." 

" Oh, sir, can you think that ? " 

" No, no, my boy, that's only my joke. I know your good heart and 
jour devotion too well. I was just talking about it to your good mother." 

"And M. Loyal even gave me to hope that before long — " 

' ' Hush ! Madame Borin ! saperltpopette ! I must never tell you anything ! 
What a chatterbox, what a chatterbox ! But that's not all, I have a word 
to say to Victor ; will you let us go into the next room ? " 

At these words Victor turned pale. It appeai'ed as if this interview was 
expected and dreaded by him. 

" Why, M. Loyal, are you not at home here ? " 

" Oh, I sha'n't keep him long, the more so that you are just going to 
have your meal, and this little girl must have a good appetite, at her age. " 

" Ah ! M. Loyal," said Louise, blushing like a rose, " if you would — " 

"What, my pet?" 

" If you would have dinner with us ! " 

" How can you think of it, my child ? " said her mother. " We haven't 
fit dinner. M. Loyal would not — " 



DISPATCH -AND SECRECY. 



23 



" Yes, yes," said the inquiry-agent, " I accept with pleasure, on the con- 
trary, and the more so that I can smell something savoury in the kitchen." 

" It's cabbage soup." 

"Cabbage soup, and you never told me? Ah ! Madame Borin, Madame 
Borin, give me a plate, I shall invite myself." 

" Then Louise will run round to the eating-house and fetch something." 

"Let no one move !" cried Loyal gaily, " let no one move, or I'm off 
and shall shake off the dust from my feet upon your mat, and never come 
again. To table, at once ! Give me some soup, quick, Madame Borin ; we 
can chat after dinner." 

It was but a respite, but the young man gave a sigh of relief. They took 
their places. M. Loyal insisted on having Madame Borin on his right and 
Louise on his left. By this arrangement he sat opposite to Victor, whom 
he seemed to cover and fascinate with his glittering eyes. He was in the 
highest spirits, surpassingly agreeable, now joking with Madame Borin, 
whom he dubbed the queen of cooks, now inquiring about the aspirations, 
desires and needs of the family, and. promising not only the continuation 
of their present happiness, but unhoped-for improvement. The old mother 
and Louise were enchanted. Victor alone remained gloomy. It was be- 
cause he knew that his affected pleasantness concealed some danger, that 
M. Loyal, like a cat, drew his claws in before making use of them. And 
M. Loyal-Francoeur's claws were sharp ! Dinner was over at last. At 
Madame Borin's request, M. Loyal had consented to allow Louise to go 
and fetch a bottle of Chartreuse, of which he sipped two glasses like a true 
Sybarite. 

" If you like, my dear Victor, we will talk over our little affair now," 
said he, wiping his lips. 

"Go, my child, go," said Madame Borin, " and follow the advice of our 
worthy M. Loyal ; he will give you none but good." 

"I know it, mother," replied Victor, with a bitter smile. 

The old woman lighted a candle, and the two men went into the bedroom. 
Hardly had Madame Borin left them alone, than the expression of both 
changed. Victor did not attempt to conceal his uneasiness, and M. Loyal 
became serious. 

"What is the matter sir, and why have you pursued me here? " asked 
the young man. 

"I came here because I was too late to go to your office. What the 
matter is you must know well. The matter is that the moment for action 
is come." 

" Then you have not given up this odious business? " 

" Given it up ! Why, I neglect everything else for it. Odious business ! 
Come, I say, are you going to begin to preach now?" 
"But—" 

"It would be out of place, I warn you ; when I command, I insist upon 
being obeyed, and, above all, obeyed without objections being raised." 

"It is because, the more I think of it, the more horrible this thing 
appears to me. Dishonour an innocent young girl, break an old man's 
heart ; it seems to me that in lending myself to that I should bring mis- 
fortune on my sister — who is innocent, too, and on my poor old mother." 

" Bravo ! " sneered M. Loyal, " that's a sentiment that would go down 
splendidly in a tirade at the Ambigu ; do you know you're quite eloquent, 
and you plead your cause beautifully. But do you think that if you resist 
me, the position of your mother and sister will be a very enviable one ? 



24 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

Just recollect how and where we got to know one another. I was, as I 
am now, in business, and I discounted bills — under favourable conditions. 
A young man — a student — came and called on me and brought me bills, 
with the necessary three signatures. The young man was not rich. His 
family, consisting of an old mother and a young sister, a child of thirteen, 
had made every sacrifice, had pledged, mortgaged, sold everything in order 
that he might be able to pursue his studies. You remember that, eh 
Victor ? " 
" Why remind me of it ? " muttered the young man mournfully. 
"And he, the young fool, launched in the pleasures of Paris, he had 
madly squandered the fruit of these painful sacrifices. His mother was 
economising her last crust of black bread, convinced that the coming 
examinations, for the expenses of which she had sold her wedding rin^, 
would make her son a lawyer. And the young man was not even dream- 
ing of passing them. He had spent in dissipation the last money which 
it was in his mother's power to send him. I discounted his bills— but 
when they fell due ; when, after having been presented to no purpose at 
his house, the endorser was called upon to pay, the latter stated that his 
signature was a forgery. The rash youth might have gone to the galleys, 
and then what would have become of his good old mother and his charm- 
ing sister ? Tell me, Victor, what would have become of them ? " 

"Oh ! you have already made me pay dearly for that service," said the 
wretched young man gloomily. 

"Fool! Do you think that it was out of pure philanthropy that I 
sacrificed my money and got you out of the scrape ? Come, come ! I did 
more. I brought your mother and sister up from the country, and I pro- 
vided them with the means of livelihood. For you I found an occupation." 
" The occupation of a spy ! " 

" Even that's too good for a forger," said Loyal-Francceur harshly. 
"Oh ! forger !" protested Victor. 

"Yes, forger, certainly, both in fact and inlaw. Oh, I can see what 
you're going to say. You had genuine signatures *.li other bills, and these 
were only renewals. You believed that your mother was in quite a different 
position, and you were certain that the bills would be paid when they were 
due. Not a bit of it. There are in Paris a hundred young fellows who go 
through this performance every day, and who not only get off, but after- 
wards become wealthy men, respected, and— honest. Very well, but your 
mother was at the end of her resources, and you were risking imprison- 
ment. I saved you from imprisonment. I took your mother and sister 
out of misery. But I kept the bill. With one word I can set the law in 
motion against you. Beware ! You will tell me that you have rendered 
me services. Granted. For the last three years you have kept an in- 
telligence and copying-office. Thanks to that, you have furnished me with 
much important information, many useful documents. But what of that ? 
I have ten men to take your place, if I please. From you I expect, I insist 
upon having, more. I have a splendid affair on hand, one of those chances 
that don't come once m a lifetime. For the last six months I have been 
leading up to it. For it I have neglected my other business, I have strained 
my mind, spent my money, and you think that, on the brink of success I 
should be fool enough to abandon it ? Really, now ! Listen, to-day 1 nut 
the finishing touch to it. I have burnt my ships. By to-morrow everv 
thing must be concluded ! " J 



DISrATCH AND SECRECY. 



25 



" Command, I will obey," 

"That's the style. That's the way to look at things. And, who 
knows ? perhaps this affair may do you a good turn at the same time ; 
you have only to show yourself clever and bold. After all, you're of 
good family, you're as good as M. Paul Clair ac. The girl will not be so 
much to blame." 

" And if I failed ? " 

" That will be because you went about it badly, my lad, and I won't allow 
that, I will not ! If I'm obliged to throw my cards up, if the bomb bursts, 
its fragments shall kill you too. Now I have done. Let us go into the 
room again, and keep calm. You mother and sister must not suspect any- 
thing." 

Victor did not reply. He went to the wash-hand-stand, dipped a towel 
in the water and bathed his face with it several times. Then, as M. Loyal 
was about to turn the handle of the door to leave the room, he asked in a 
low voice : 

" And if I succeed 1— to the end ? " 

" What do you mean ? ' to the end ' ? " 

" If they consent to let me marry the girl ? " 

" You know my conditions. You will hand over to me two-thirds of the 
marriage portion, on the day after the wedding ; two-thirds of the 
succession on the day of the Colonel's death, and I am counting on the 
shock which this affair will cause to shorten the delay which separated us 
from that death." 

"It is horrible !" 

"Eool! Are you going to have any scruples? Scruples are all very 
well for those who are rich ; for others they are more than a fault, they 
are a vice." 

He had opened the door ; the two women were sitting down, Madame 
Borin hemming dusters, Louise doing embroidery. 

" The conference is over, " saidM. Loyalgaily. "A glass of sugar and water 
if you please, Madame Borin. Ah ! this boy is such a trouble to me ; if 
you only knew how obstinate he is ! " 

" Why do you not pay attention to our good M. Loyal, my son ? " said 
Madame Borin reproachfully, whilst Louise hastened to prepare a glass of 
sugar and water. "You must know that he will only give you good ad- 
vice ; you must obey him blindly ; do you hear ? " 

"I will do so, mother," murmured Victor, in a choking voice. 

M. Loyal-Francceur drank his glass of sugar and water in little sips, like a 
man who is rewarding himself forallthe trouble he has taken for the successful 
conduct of an affair. Madame Borin and Louise looked at him smilingly. 

VII. 

AT CHAELY. 

Peingy, on hastily leaving the house in the Rue des Chantres, had jumped 
into a cab and ordered the driver to take him to the Eastern Railway 
Station. It wanted a few minutes of mid-day, he might catch the southern 
express. He told the driver to hurry, promising him a liberal tip. Un- 
fortunately, at the entrance to the station, there was a block. This caused 
a loss of two minutes, exactly the time that was left him. The count 



26 DISPATCH AND SECRECY'. 

arrived in time to see the wicket clo.se. It is necessary to have one of these 
little accidents, in order to understand the anger, the rage which they 
cause. Impatient to know all, and to verify the suspicions which M. Loyal- 
Francceur's ambiguous allegation had inspired him with, he was eager to be 
at the end of his journey, and now, just for want of a minute, he would 
have to put up with a long wait. He made inquiries of a porter. There 
was no other train before three o'clock ! Three centuries during which he 
would have to restrain his impatience ! For a moment Pringy thought of 
driving back to the Rue des Chantres, in order to demand a categorical 
explanation. He had no doubt that, by paying a good price, it would be 
possible to obtain it from the inquiry-agent, with whom everything appeared 
to be regulated according to tariff. But, since he had begun, it was better 
to verify the facts himself. Perhaps, after all, this man had only told him 
this story in order to get a few louis out of him, and it was nothing but 
an odious calumny. The count remembered, too, that it was a quarter- 
past twelve and he had not yet breakfasted. In the morning's excitement 
he had forgotten it. 

He went into a restaurant, ordered two or three dishes, which he hardly 
touched, drank two glasses of Bordeaux and a cup of coffee, paid the bill and 
looked at the station clock. Hardly an hour had passed. Pringy went to 
the book-stall, bought half a dozen papers, and glanced through them one 
after the other. All said much the same things, all related — with different 
comments, it is true — the same events, the same facts. He ended by crush- 
ing them up and throwing them away. Then he took out his watch and 
found that it was only half-past one. He swore a hearty oath, which made 
five or six people turn round. He became aware then that his agitation, his 
impatience, and his strange manner had drawn on him the attention of the 
passengers, and that they were looking at him curiously. Not wishing to 
make an exhibition of himself, he went out and, turning to the right, 
mounted the steps which led to the Rue d'Alsace and from there to the 
Rue de Lafayette. Wandering along he reached the Rue de la Chapelle, 
plunged into the winding streets of the Goutte d'Or district, and finally 
succeeded in so completely losing himself that he had to ask his way back 
to the station. But his walk in the bitter cold had calmed his nerves a 
little and had occupied some time. When the count entered the station 
again passengers were taking their tickets for the Chateau-Thierry train. 
He took a first-class ticket to Nogent-l'Artaud and ensconced himself in an 
empty compartment. 

The journey from Paris to Nogeut is a long one and appears to be almost 
interminable, from the frequent stoppages of the slow train. Accordingly, 
the count's ill-temper returned with increased violence. Things were still 
worse when, at a quarter to six, he finally arrived at Nogent-l'Artaud. As 
the man in the Rue des Chantres had informed him, one travels in a convey- 
ance from Nogent to Charly. Now, if a train is slow, a conveyance is 
doubly so. Pringy had hurried into it, thinking that it would start at once. 
But the driver had no such idea. He was sitting calmly on a table in the 
cloak-room, talking to a porter. Two travellers, a man in a blouse and an old 
lady, who were, no doubt, well acquainted with the usages and customs of the 
locality, had taken their places inside and had mournfully settled down, 
covering themselves with shawls and rugs. The count watched them muff- 
ling themselves up ; then, seeing that no start was made, he called out to 
the driver': 

" Well, are we going to start? " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



27 



" Directly, sir. I'm waiting for a passenger who's busy. ' 

The passenger, a fat, jovial personage, in an overcoat and cap of otter 
skin,_ arrived at last, carrying a large bag which he had been to fetch from 
a neighbouring house and which he placed between his legs in the con- 
veyance. The driver was still in the cloak-room. 

"Come, are we going to start to-day or to-morrow?" cried Pringy, 
exasperated. 

"I've some luggage to load ! " replied the driver, tranquilly. " We shall 
be off directly. " 

"He must load the luggage," remarked the old lady, looking inquisitively 
at the count. "He is all alone, poor fellow," she added. And, being 
evidently anxious to engage in conversation, she continued : 

" You are going to Charly, no doubt, sir ? " 

The count looked at her and replied sulkily : 

" Of course ; since I'm in the 'bus." 

" Ah, but you might be going as far as Pavant, which is a little further. 
And, not to be inquisitive, is this the first time you have been in oiir parts ? " 

The count was dying to tell the old witch to go to the devil and mind 
her own business. But he reflected. She was fond of talking. Prom 
her he might obtain all the information of which he was in want. So he 
replied : 

" The first time, madame ; and I am perplexed." 

" Ah ! you have come on business ? " 

" Exactly so. I have been asked by a family to go and see a baby which 
is at nurse, in order to find out how he is and whether he is well taken care 
of. You, who belongs to these parts, madame — " 

"A native born, and, for the last forty-eight years, I may venture to say, 
honourably known. Ask anyone you like, Madame Bonneau — " 

"You who belong to these parts," continued Pringy, "ought to know 
all the inhabitants." 

"I know them, I respect them, and, I may venture to say, I am re- 
spected by them. " 

" Certainly. Then possibly you could tell me something about the nurse." 

" Speak, sir. What is her name ? " 

" Madame Derousse." 

" Madame Derousse, Victoire Derousse, Victoire. I know her well. 
She nursed my eldest. You couldn't have done better, sir. For the last 
twenty years — Ah ! good gracious ! " 

A violent shock interrupted Madame Bonneau. The driver had just 
hoisted an enormous box on to the box-seat of the conveyance. 

"Ah!" continued the worthy lady, "that's just like Louis ; I thought 
the ceiling was coming down. It's given me a buzzing in my ears." 

"Excuse me, but you were saying, madame — ?" inquired Pringy, who 
found the old lady's talk interesting now. 

" I was saying — whatever was I saying ? I forget altogether." 

" You were telling me about Madame Derousse." 

"Ah ! yes, Victoire. Well, sir, as I was saying — " 

" Step in, gentlemen, step in ! " shoutedthe driver at the door. Every- 
one had stepped in long before. But such is the invariable formula before 
starting. Grand-Louis mounted on the box, whipped up his horse and 
started at a slow trot in the direction of the suspension bridge. Madame 
Bonneau was silent. The count, who was anxious to know more, returned 
afresh to the charge. 



28 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" Well, madame, you were saying that this nurse — " 

" An excellent woman, respectability itself." 

"Where does she live ? " 

"At the end of the town. You follow the 'Pavement' as far as the 
Grande-Rue, and close by, on the right, you will find her little house." 

" And do you know the child she is nursing at present ? " 

"I have seen him occasionally — a very quiet, very pretty little boy, a 
child of mystery, it would seem, for he is well looked after ; but no one 
ever comes to see him. He is, according to what Victoire told me, the son 
of a grand lady living in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. But that's gossip. 
You know better than I do, sir, since you have come to see the child.-" 

" No matter ; continue, madame." 

" Yes, you have come to see whether the child is well cared for. That he 
is, I venture to say, and well. But, now I come to think of it, perhaps 
you're the papa ? " 

" No ; only a friend." 

" Well, sir, you can tell your friends that never was confidence better 
placed. For the matter of that, if anyone wanted to know anything, I am 
honourably known in all Charly, I venture to say nobody will contradict me." 

The Count de Pringy knew enough. He let Madame Bonneau run on. 
Moreover, although progressing at a very slow rate of speed, Grand-Louis' 
van had reached its destination. It stopped before the Hotel Saint-Martin. 

" All step out ! " cried the driver. "Fares, please, ladies and gentlemen ! " 

Pringy paid his fare. It was almost dark. He received some final 
instructions from Madame Bonneau and followed the 'Pavement,' as she 
said, on his way to Madame Derousse's, the nurse. Charly is not a large 
place : it is, in spite of its title of town, simply a clean and coquettish 
village, inhabited by a well-to-do and free-and-easy population. As in 
all little places, the arrival of a stranger is an event. Accordingly, although 
it was dusk and the lighting of the streets of Charly is very rudimentary, 
the count saw, as he walked along the 'Pavement,' inquisitive faces appear 
at doors and windows, to stare at him. Thus it was, it may be said, 
beneath the eyes of the population, that he arrived at Madame Derousse's 
cottage. 

Madame Derousse — Victoire, as she is called in the neighbourhood — was 
an excellent woman who bravely devoted herself to the industry of a nurse 
— a veritable industry for her. Married ten years ago, she has already had 
seven children, and counts on having at least as many more. These 
children are no burden to her, on the contrary, they are the implements 
of her trade. As soon as one of them is born, the mother comes to Paris, 
and as her child is a magnificent one, she soon finds a situation as nurse in 
a wealthy family. This situation she keeps as long as possible. If the 
child is weaned the nurse has still enough milk to undertake another. This 
one weaned, she becomes a mother again and prepares for two future 
nurslings. Besides this, as it is the custom in every Parisian family to be 
liberal towards the nurses, at every trip to Paris she goes and pays a 
round of visits, of which the number increases from year to year, and at 
each house she receives a present. 

When Pringy arrived in front of the cottage he found the door closed, 
but a bright gleam of light flashing from the windows of the first floor 
proved to him that there was some one at home. He looked. In a large 
fireplace was burning a wood-fire, in front of which some babies' clothes 
were hanging to dry. On either side of the fireplace, on two little chairs 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 29 

just alike and facing one another, two babies, the two foster-brothers, were 
watching each other and warming themselves. The count knocked softly, 
there was no reply. He knocked again, more loudly. The barking of a 
dog, which he had not seen lying in a corner, burst out all at once, and with 
common consent the two little children began to cry. 

" What's the matter, Fido ? Who's there?" asked a shrill voice. The 
door opened, and Madame Derousse, escorted by five of her seven children, 
made her appearance. 

VIII. 

THE REGISTERED LETTER. 

Madame Derousse was a little woman of thirty, plump, rosy, and smiling. 
If her occupation of a nurse, and the preliminaries which it requires had 
not worn her down a trifle, she would not have been bad-looking. But the 
beautS du diable, that is to say freshness, which had formerly been her only 
attraction, had long disappeared. Her chubby cheeks, once red as two 
apples, were now wrinkled and blotched. She opened the door and, seeing 
a stranger, a well-dressed gentleman, asked pardon for having kept him 
waiting. 

" No matter, my good lady," said the count, pushing past her into the 
house ; for, as she made her excuses she left him standing outside ; ' ' just let 
me come in and warm my feet at your famous fire whilst I tell you what 
has brought me." 

" Of course ! whatever am I thinking of? Come in, sir. Loulou, give 
the gentleman a chair, quick ! " 

Loulou, the eldest of the young Derousses, a fine lad of eight, plump and 
chubby-cheeked, replied only by thrusting his first finger a little more 
deeply into his nose, and did not move. 

" No use troubling the child," said the count, going and fetching the 
chair himself and placing it before the fire. " I'm quite comfortable now ; 
we will have a chat, if you don't mind.' 

" Certainly. What can I do to serve you ? " 

"You have here at nurse a little boy from Paris, one of these two 
children, no doubt 1 " asked Pringy, looking at the two babies sitting 
motionless on their chairs, like two tiny caryatides. 

" Little Jean, yes, sir; there he is." 

Pringy looked at the child who, like all infants, had absolutely no 
resemblance to any one. 

"And," said he, lowering his voice, "could you show me that child's 
certificate of birth ? " 

" Ah ! good heavens ! are you a magistrate or a police commissary?' 
cried Madame Derousse, terrified. Then, collecting herself : 

"Ah ! no, what a fool I am," she continued ; "you're the inspector of 
nursed children." 

"Exactly so," replied Pringy, gladly embracing this opportunity of 
avoiding a delicate explanation. 

" Well, my good sir," said the nurse with embarrassment, " the difficulty 
is this, I haven't got the certificate." 

"How is that?" 

"This is the first time, I assure you, M. l'inspecteur, that I've taken a 



30 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

child under these circumstances. It's a long story, like Victor, or the. Child 
in the Forest, a book I bought at Chateau-Thierry, and which M. 
l'inspecteur must know." 

" Well, well," said the count, who was not anxious to hear the adventures 
of the Child in the Forest, but who was eager to know those of little Jean. 
" So you have not got the certificate ? " 

" No, M. l'inspecteur. " 

" Not even a memorandum, a certificate of baptism? ' 

" Nothing at all, M. l'inspecteur." 

" The deuce ! my good woman, this is a serious thing. But at any rate 
you can tell me the name of the father and mother. " 

"Alas ! no. But let me tell you how it all happened. I had just had 
my little Arthur, my last one, that one, opposite Jean. I was waiting to 
get a little strength before going to Paris , when one evening, as it might be no w, 
there is a knock at my door. A lady comes in. This lady, a midwife that 
I knew by sight, from having met her in the registry-office, was carrying a 
newly-born child in her arms. ' You're Madame Derousse ? ' she asks. 
'I've brought you a nursling— one that will pay you well.' I naturally 
thanked her, and asked her for the child's papers, as is always done. 
' Never mind that,' she says. 'You charge thirty francs a month, don't 
you ? I'll give you forty, and there are two months in advance, with 
twenty francs for sugar and soap. Every month you'll receive your money 
by post, and it will always be in advance. Now, as to the child's name, 
it's Jean, and he was born on the twenty -first. That's all that you require 
to know.' She put the baby, who was crying, on the bed. He was very 
hungry, poor dear little angel, and I gave him the breast. Whilst he was 
suckling the midwife put a hundred-franc note in my hand, threw down in 
the corner a large parcel containing the layette, and went as she had come, 
without even saying 'good-day.' " 

" And you have never seen this woman since ? " 

" Never. " 

" You know her name, at any rate?" 

"No. sir." 

" But who (old you she was a midwife? " 

" I'd often sci'ii her at the registry office. That was why I trusted her." 

" And since then, have you received the money regularly, as promised?" 

" Certainly, sir, on the first day of each month." 

" And who brings it?" 

" It comes in a letter, a registered letter.' 

" Have you one there ? " 

" Ye 5 !, sir. Here is one." 

She handed him an envelope embellished with five black seals. He ex- 
amined these seals and could not suppress an exclamation of surprise. They 
were armorial seals, and on each one the count recognised the escutcheon of 
the De Rieumes family ! Doubt was now out of the question : Jeanne de 
Rieumes, Paul Clairac's_ betrothed, was this child's mother! This young 
girl, so pure and candid in appearance, was a vile creature. He remained 
there, dumbfounded, as if he had not foreseen this discovery, and as if he 
had not, in a certain fashion, come to make it. The nurse looked at him 
curiously. 

" Well, does this letter tell you anything, sir ? " she asked, at last. He 
started He had forgotten the woman's presence. 

" No no," said he, growing outwardly calm. "I was only thinking that 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



31 



this might serve, in a measure, to explain your irregular position. I will 
keep it for that reason. " 

He placed the envelope in his pocket-book, with the memorandum that 
he had taken of the midwife's abode. The nurse raised no objection, being 
only too pleased to meet the wishes of " M. l'inspecteur." The latter had 
hastened to depart. He was longing to get to Paul Clairac, to tell him all, 
to render him the immense service of preventing him from marrying a 
woman as corrupt as faithless. Unfortunately, he found it as difficult to 
get away from Charly as it had been to arrive there. The last train for 
Paris is due at Nogent-l'Artaud at a quarter to nine, and it was now past 
eight. Grand-Louis' conveyance was already on its way to the station. M. 
de Pringy decided to sleep at Charly. The attractions offered by the place 
not being considerable, and the count being, moreover, very fatigued from 
the excitement and travels of the day, he made a hasty dinner at the 
H6tel Saint-Martin and went up to his bedroom, giving orders that he 
should be called early. 

In spite of his fatigue he slept badly ; the events of the day were recalled 
in the form of nightmares, and he felt gloomy and despondent on taking 
his seat at six o'clock the next morning in the train which took him back 
to Paris. His task, however, was not yet concluded. On the contrary, 
the most terrible part of it was about to begin. After having visited his 
chambers, in order to make the necessary changes in his toilet, he drove to 
Paul Clairac's. But fate had decreed that delay should haunt M. de 
Pringy in the course of this business. Paul Clairac was not at home ; he 
was breakfasting with the De Rieumes. The count's first idea was to wait for 
him. It seemed to him a little too bad to go to Colonel de Rieumes' house 
to break off his daughter's marriage. But he was so exasperated at the 
girl's deceitfulness that he would not put off the task of unmasking her for a 
single instant. 

He drove to the De Rieumes' house in the Rue Bellechasse. 



IX. 

A DIFFICULT EXPLANATION. 

Since he had been on the retired list, "since his ear had been split," as 
he said, Colonel Jean de Rieumes had lived in the old family mansion in 
the Rue Bellechasse. This house is one of those dwellings dating back from 
the good old times when, not having, as at the present date, to measure the 
ground by the yard and to economise space like some precious object, people 
went to work building at their ease. There is little to be seen from the 
street. In those days the aristocrats did not care about living on intimate 
terms with the passers-by. The porter's lodge and servants' offices, there- 
fore, alone look on the street, from which a broad and vast court-yard 
separates the master's abode, reached by a flight of six steps. Behind, ex- 
tensive gardens stretch away as far as the Rue de Bourgogne. 

A widower for many years, the colonel lived there alone, and devoted him- 
self ardently to his two favourite passions, gardeningandoil-painting. On this 
morning he had invited Paul Clairac to breakfast, his son-in-law, as he called 
him, although the marriage was not to take place for a fortnight's time. But 
the announcement had been made and, what appeared a much more serious 
matter to the colonel, promises had been exchanged. M. de Rieumes, then 



32 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

had asked Paul Clairac to come early, so as to be able to have a talk with 
him. He had taken him to his studio — a large room with pictures, bronzes, 
plaster casts, easels covered with sketches — which he had fitted up himself, 
and whence, through two large windows opening on the garden the colonel, 
whilst daubing his canvases, could throw a paternal glance on his borders 
and melon-frames. While waiting for Jeanne, who had not yet come down 
from her room, Clairac had handed himself over entirely to his father-in- 
law, who was explaining to him his theories on art and forcing him to admire 
his pictures. It must be confessed that with the cowardice of a lover the 
young artist went into ecstacies over horrible performances of which the 
veriest dauber would have been ashamed. 

" Here, look at this, son-in-law," said the colonel, pointing with his maul- 
stick to a canvas half covered with paint, aud upon which stood mathe- 
matically correct rows of trees. ' ' Just look at this forest and tell me 
whether your daubers of the present day can do as well." 

" The trees are perhaps a trifle too like one another," hazarded Glairao 
timidly. 

" What ? not one of them resembles its neighbour. But look more closely. 
I don't go in for ' impasting,' like your new school ; I don't paint with a 
broom, nor with a knife. When I paint a leaf, it will bear looking at with 
a microscope. I'm not afraid of any faults being found in it." 

Eleven o'clock struck. A servant knocked at the door and announced 
that " Mademoiselle had come down." 

" Come along, son-in-law, don't keep the ladies waiting, "cried the colonel, 
hastily throwing off his blouse and putting on his coat. 

" To the dining-room, forward, march ! " 

Jeanne was awaiting her lover, not in the dining-room, but in a little 
room adjoining. The colonel and Clairac were about to enter, when another 
servant approached the young artist and handed him a letter. 

" Excuse me," said Clairac. 

"Certainly, but be quick. Some one is waiting for you, you know." 

The young man tore open the envelope. It contained a card on which 
were written a few words in pencil. 

" De Pringy," he read aloud. " He begs me to go down at once, as he has 
something important to say to me." 

Colonel de Rieumes had known Pringy as a sub-lieutenant. He had seen 
him several times since, and had even had him under his orders for a short 
time. 

" Pringy !" he cried, " Captain Pringy. Sapristi ! let him come in. I 
shall be delighted to shake hands with him. Pierre, ask him in, or rather, 
I'll go down myself." 

And with his usual impetuosity, the worthy man, rushing towards the 
entrance-hall, hurried with outstretched hands towards the amazed count. 

" Mille tonnerres, my dear captain ! " said the colonel, taking the visitor's 
hand before the latter had time to withdraw it, "to what extraordinary 
circumstance do I owe the pleasure of a visit from you ? Why, we're old 
friends, eh ! Do you remember Versailles, where I came near having your 
head off? You must bear me a grudge for it, since you are my son- 
in-law's friend and yet never come under my roof? " 

"Much embarrassed, for he had hoped that Clairac would come down alone 
and speak to him, the count stammered a few words of excuse.. 

" I have you now, though, and I don't mean to let you go," continued 
tha impetuous colonel. " You must begin by having breakfast with ua 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 33 

You know Clairao already, don't you ? I'll introduce you to my daughter." 

" I assure you, colonel — " 

" What ! you can't refuse me that ! You don't know my little Jeanne, 
she was a child when we were in the regiment. She's fit to marry now. 
Clairac knows something about that, the rascal ! since it is he who is going 
to marry her. Come, Clairac, help me to persuade this obstinate fellow. 
Jeanne must be getting impatient and the breakfast cold." 

" I join with Monsieur de Rieumes," said Paul Clairac, "in begging you 
to make one of us. I am, you know, already sufficiently one of the family 
to be able to insist." 

One of the family ! And it was precisely to prevent this that Pringy had 
come to fetch him. The position became more and more awkward. 

" Listen, my dear Paul," said he, taking Clairac's hand, " it is absolutely 
necessary that I should speak to you in private, and at once. I have some- 
thing exceedingly serious to say to you." 

" Well, go into the drawing-room," exclaimed the headstrong colonel, " go 
and tell your tale. Look here, I give you ten minutes. At the end of that 
time you will come to breakfr ..,t. I have got something of importance to tell 
you as well, captain, some splendid things to show yoSt. You didn't know 
that I went in for gardening. I have a hot-house, on a new model invented 
by myself. All the gardeners who see it are amazed at it. " 

"On my honour, colonel," said Pringy, making a stand at last, " it is 
impossible for me to accept. " > 

" Then I won't insist, although if we were still with the colours — There, 
Clairac, take the captain to the smoking-room and hear his confession. 
Only don't make it too long. Jeanne is waiting for you." 

He took himself off, after having made an almost cool bow to the count. 
The latter sadly returned it and followed Clairac into the smoking-room. 

"jSTow," said the artist, motioning to his friend to take a seat, "what's 
going on ? what is it that is serious enough to make you come and seek 1113 
at my betrothed's home ? " 

"Paul ! " cried Pringy, "you have known me for a long time. I have 
been a friend of your family, you can trust me, can you not ? Well, you 
must leave this house on the spot ! " 

" What do you mean ? " 

" That you are the victim of an infamous comedy; that you have been 
drawn into a trap ; that the woman whom you were about to marry is un- 
worthy of you. " 

"Jeanne!" 

" Unworthy of you, I repeat, and I will give you proofs of it, when you 
like." 

" Wretch ! " cried Clairac, springing up in menacing fashion, as if he were 
about to throw himself on the count. But he controlled himself by a 
violent effort and continued in a calmer voice : 

' ' Listen in your turn, Pringy. Yes, you have always been good to me, 
you have been almost a father to me ; I have great obligations towards yon. 
But what you are doing now is infamous and cowardly. You aie cal- 
umniating the most adorable, the most innocent, the purest of girls. You 
are insulting the woman who will soon bear my nan*. " 

" That is exactly what I want to prevent." 

" I think you are going mad, and I will hear no more," said the artist, 
walking towards the door. 

"No, no. You shall remain and hear me out. Like St. Thomas you 

B 



81 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

shall touch with your finger and be convinced. I have told you that your 
betrothed was unworthy of you. I have brought proofs of it." 

" Enough, I say, you are mad ! " 
'You are mad yourself, to refuse to accept this evidence. Look," said 
Pringy, taking from his pocket-book the envelope of the letter which he 
had obtained possession of at Charly. "Look at these seals, do you re- 
cognise the arms ? " 

" De gueules a la guivre d' argent, yes. They are the arms of the 
De Kieumes family. Well ? " 

" And the writing, do ycu know it ? " 

" It is like Jeanne's. But what does this envelope prove, and where did 
you get it ? " 

" This envelope, Paul, belongs to a registered letter, by which an un- 
known mother sends to a nurse the money for the keep of a child whom 
she is having brought up secretly. This envelope I myself obtained from 
little Jean's nurse, for the child's name, like his mother's, is Jean, so they 
told me. Do you understand now why I have come to tell you that yoa 
must leave this house without a moment's delay and never enter it again?" 

" And what prompted you to engage on this search 1 " asked the artist, 
whose face had become livid. 

"Chance — a word overheard, which I promised not to repeat," hastily 
replied Pringy, who did not care to confess that he had gone to consult 
M. Loyal-Francceur on matters which, after all, did not concern him. 
"And upon this, being puzzled, I began to investigate. I made a jour- 
ney, I found out all, saw all." 

And he gave a rapid account of his conversation with the woman 
Derousse, his suspicions, his certainty. Paul Clairac listened, digging his 
nails into the palms of his hands to conceal his emotion. 

" Sir," said he, in a choking voice, " I shall go in my turn, and alone, 
to verify what you tell me. If you have told the truth, I shall know what to 
do. If you have lied, I swear to you that your blood shall wash out the 
insult which you have put upon Jeanne." He took a step towards the 
door. The door opened, however, and a charming young girl appeared. 

" My father tells m< , M le Comte," said she, in a voice clear as crystal, 
" that you will not stop ; I have come to see whether you w ill resist my 
entreaties." 



KIDNAPPED. 

ALTHOUGH there was nothing very terrible about it, this unexpected 
arrival had an effect like that of a Medusa's head on the two men. 
They stood there looking at her in silence, ns if they had been changed to 
stone. The sight of her whom he loved and whom he had iust heard so 
outrageously libelled redoubled Paul Clairac's anger and his desire to 
avenge the calumny. As for the Comte de Pringy, he stared at Jeanne, 
standing there, calm and smiling, and wondered how that pure face those 
beautiful blue eyes, so limpid and truthful, that rosy, laughing mouth so 
frank and so cordial, could conceal so much duplicity. ' 

"Well, gentlemen, have 1 frightened you?" continued the ch-rmine 
girl, in a merry voice. " Am I so ugly, then ? " " s 



DISrATCTI AND SECRECY. 35 

" Mademoiselle — " stammered Pringy, bowing, " the surprise — " 

" I must have interrupted you ! Perhaps you were conspiring, and you 
took me for the police commissary? But you feel at ease now, do you not? 
Let one of you give me his arm, and let us go to the dining-room, where 
my father must be storming dreadfully." 

But neither of the men obeyed this graceful request. 

" My dear Jeanne," said Paul, in a hesitating way, " some news, an un 
expected mishap that M. Pringy has just told me of, obliges me to go at 
once — " 

" A mishap ! " interrupted the young girl, quickly. " But I see you are 
pale, Paul, paler than a simple surprise would have made you; you have 
had some bad news, some accident has happened. What is it ? Tell me 
quickly ! " 

" Excuse me, Jeanne, I cannot." 

"You cannot. You have secrets from me, from me who am your be- 
trothed, from me who am about to be your wife ! " 

" This secret does not belong to me alone." 

" Very well, then. But tell me, at least, that there is no danger for you, 
that it does not threaten our happiness. Speak, speak quickly, Paul, for 
you are so pale and anxious that I dread some catastrophe." 

"It would be a terrible catastrophe, in truth, which caused my fears to 
be realised," said Paul, looking at Pringy. "And even if, as I hope, those 
fears are unfounded, something serious must take place before I return 
to you." 

" What ? You are going to leave us, then ! " 

" It is absolutely necessary. I must make a journey." 

" A journey! " 

"Necessitated by the news this gentleman has brought me." 

"And will this journey be a long one! " 

" I do not know; a few days, probably; much longer, perhaps." 

" Oh ! " cried the young girl, suddenly struck with an idea, " you have 
received bad news from your banker, you fear losses, ruin, and you are 
afraid that, deprived of your own means, you will meet with a cool reception 
here. Ah ! my dear, how little you know us ! Do you not know that my 
father is the most disinterested man in the world ? And, as for myself, as 
for me who loves you, do you think that money considerations would make 
any change in me ? " 

" You are wrong, Jeanne," replied Paul Clairac, whom this discussion 
quite unnerved, "you are wrong. Do not try to discover the cause of this 
abrupt departure. You will know it later, perhaps — when I return and 
have the right to tell you all." 

Pringy, too, was grieved at this scene. He saw the anguish of Paul, for 
whom he had a sincere affection. On the other hand, although firmly per- 
suaded that Mademoiselle de Rieumes was guilty and was playing her part 
of an innocent with the perfection of an old actress, he could not help feel- 
ing a certain amount of emotion on hearing her speak of her affection for 
Paul and of her approaching marriage, a marriage which from that moment 
was brojj^n off. Accordingly, he determined to interpose- and to aim one 
decisive dIow. 

" I beg you, mademoiselle," said he, " do not try to know more at pre- 
sent. Clairac must set off at once to the Eastern Railway Station. There 
is just time to catch the train for Charly-sur-Marne." 

The young girl looked at him with astonishment. 



36 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" Where is Charly-sur-Marne ? " she asked. 

" A little village near Chateau-Thierry." 

" Enough, sir," said Paul Clairac, sternly, " we have remained here too 
long already. Adieu, Jeanne, or rather, I hope, au revoir." 

He left the room. Pringy bowed to Jeanne and followed him. The 
young girl withdrew thoughtfully, wondering how she should explain this 
double departure to her father. And, at the moment when the Comte de 
Pringy and Paul Clairac, animated by such different feelings, crossed the 
threshold of Colonel Rieumes' house, the window-blind of a wine-shop op- 
posite was carefully drawn aside, and Monsieur Loyal-Francoeur's villain- 
ous face appeared. The inquiry-agent read upon the two faces the emotions 
which were agitating their hearts, and muttered, with a smile : 

" The oven's getting hot ; now's the time to put the bread in." 

At the corner of the street Paul Clairac and Pringy separated. The 
former was eager to be off, to go and see this child, to question this woman 
of whom the count had told him. He had kept the envelope of the 
registered letter, and if what he had been told was true, if the money which 
this letter contained had really served to pay for the keep of a mysterious 
child, he would go to the post-office, would demand from the postmaster, 
from the secretary, from the minister himself, if need were, to inform him 
of the name inscribed on the register. For, after all, these five seals did 
not prove that the letter was from Jeanne. It might be someone belonging 
to the house, a kitchenmaid, the sister or relation of a groom or gardener, 
who, having to send the letter off, and thinking no wrong, had used the 
colonel's seal. 

Yes, it would really be folly to believe that Mademoiselle de Rieumes, 
supposing her to be guilty, had been so imprudent as to use a seal bearing 
her arms in order to send off money whose origin it was to her interest to 
conceal. This seal, far from being a proof against Jeanne, was, on the 
contrary, the plainest evidence of her innocence. Paul Clairac felt inclined 
to go no further, to turn back, to return to Jeanne's house, throw himself 
at her feet and implore her pardon for having doubted her. Unfortun- 
ately, one never acts on these good ideas. Paul reflected that, although 
justified in his eyes, Mademoiselle de Rieumes would not be so before all 
the world, before Pringy especially, who might go and tell others that 
which he had to\d him. And the things which, to him, appeared so 
natural, would certainly be interpreted to Jeanne's disadvantage. Before 
all, it would be necessary to silence the count ; before asking for Jeanne's 
forgiveness it behoved him to punish the slanderer. 

Paul reproached himself now for having doubted for an instant and for 
not having, at the first word, broken off the interview by begging the 
count to make arrangements to receive his seconds. Rut, since he had 
gone so far, there was no drawing back, and the simplest plan would be 
to go and find two friends and to ask them to act as his seconds, at the 
same time inventing some plausible excuse. Paul Clairac had sufficient 
confidence in M. de Pringy's loyalty to feel certain that, the duel once 
arranged, he would not reveal the motive for it. He was reflecting as to 
the choice of two seconds, when a crowd barred his way. The crowd had 
collected round a greengrocer's little cart which had been overturned by a 
passing cab. People were calling after the driver, who had made off. As 
is always the case, the police were being accused of not doing their duty, 
although an officer was going from one group to another, inquiring in vain 
for the number of the cab which no one had thought of noticing, just as no 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 37 

one of those who were now making such an outcry had thought of taking 
the horse by the bridle in order to prevent the driver from making his 
escape. In the first rank, putting questions to everyone, exactly like the 
policemen, was a gentleman in a frock-coat, who, note-book in hand, was 
taking down all the details of the accident. Clairac recognised Gratien 
Voiville, the reporter whom we have already seen communicating his im- 
pressions to M. Manuel, the police commissary. Gratien Voiville also 
recognised Paul and made his way towards him. 

" What is the matter? " inquired the artist. 

" Next to nothing ; a ' spill ' which I shall just notice in my paper. 
Only, as I was passing, I wanted to know — " 

" — Ah !" said Clairac, suddenly remembering that he could not have a 
better second, " I'm glad I met you. Will you do me a service ? " 

" Ten, a hundred, if you like." 

" I want you for a witness — " 

" For your marriage ? " 

"No, for a duel." 

" I should have preferred a marriage, because of the breakfast. Anyway, 
perhaps there will be a breakfast after the duel ? " 

"I don't think so." 

" Is it serious, then ? 

" So serious that I shall beg you not to ask me the cause." 

"Certainly, but — your opponent ? " 

"My opponent will not ask. it either, and his seconds will have the 
same discretion." 

" Right ! as for myself, you can be at your ease, silent as a mute. By- 
the-bye, at the present moment I'm investigating, in company with a police 
commissary, a mysterious crime. We know a lot already, as, for instance, 
that an attempt has been made to conceal the identity of the corpse." 

"Take care," interrupted Clairac. "In order to make me believe in 
your prudence, you are going to reveal a secret to me." 

' ' No fear, my dear fellow ; I say no more than suits me. And I shall 
say nothing about your duel, for I know nothing. But," continued the 
reporter, " who is to be the other second? Supposing I went and asked 
Tavernier, the editor of Fencing, or De Vaux, of the Gil Bias, I can promise 
you their help. " 

"No, I should prefer some one less known. I don't want my duel to 
make a noise ; on the contrary. Go and ask my old friend, Benassit, the 
artist in the Rue Lepic. With him I shall feel comfortable in every respect. " 

"Very good, you've onlyforgotton one thing — the name of your opponent?" 

"The Comte de Pringy, Boulevard Haussmann." 

"The Comte de Pringy !" cried Voiville with astonishment. " Why, 
I thought you were intimate friends ! " 

" Just so, and it is for that very reason that the cause of the duel must 
be kept a secret." 

" I see, I see. Then good-bye till this evening, my dear fellow, and rely 
on me. But, by-the-bye, are you sure that the count is in Paris ? " 

' ' What do you mean ? " 

"Well, for the last two days he has not appeared at his club, where, as 
a rule, he was such a frequent visitor. People are asking — " 

" Don't be alarmed ; I saw him less than an hour ago." 

" All right. This evening, at six precisely, you will see me." 

Clairac and the reporter shook hands and parted. 



38 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

It was a sad breakfast at the De Rieumes' house. The colonel could not 
understand and Jeanne could not explain the cause of the abrupt departure 
of Paul Clairac and the count. M. de Rieumes was terribly put out. He 
inveighed against the rudeness of young men of the present day, threatened 
to go to his son-in-law and withdraw his consent to the marriage, and 
finally went off to seek consolation in his beloved studio, where he started 
once more upoft his forest. During this time Jeanne, alone in her room, 
was reflecting upon what had passed in the smoking-room. She, too, tried 
in vain to understand this riddle, the solution of which had so much interest 
for her. She became lost in thought, axid time passed away. Dusk soon 
comes on a November day. It was only half-past five aStl it was already 
quite dark. The door opened suddenly and Mademoiselle de Rieumes ' 
maid appeared. 

" What is it, Rosalie ? " asked the young girl. 

"A letter which a young man has just brought for mademoiselle. He 
is downstairs, waiting for an answer. " 

" Thanks, give it to me." 

A young man ! Jeanne's first idea was that the letter was from Paul. 
She opened it hastily. The writing was unknown to her. She read : 

"Mademoiselle, a person who has an important secret to reveal to you 
is below. But it is to you, and you alone, that he must speak. Come 
down into the street and bring this letter with you to prove your identity. 
He who is waiting does not know you. " 

Jeanne did not think for an instant of the impropriety and the dangei 
of such an act. She thought that Paul was concerned, and that she would 
now learn the secret of the morning's scene. She threw a mantle over her 
shoulders, took the letter, crept downstairs, crossed the court-yard, glid- 
ing along the wall, and passed the porter's lodge without being seen. On 
the pavement a young man was standing. 

"Are you Mademoiselle de Rieumes ? " he asked, taking off his hat. 

" Yes, here is the letter." 

"Very well." 

But, as if this word was a signal, Jeanne felt herself seized by the waist, a 
hand covej.ed her mouth and stifled the cry which she was about to utter, 
and she was thrown, rather than handed, into a carriage which was 
stationed on the other side of the street. Before she could recognise her 
position the door was shut and the horse started off at full speed. Her 
confusion, surprise and terror were such, that Jeanne fainted. When she 
came to herself, it seemed to her that it was extraordinarily dark. She 
mechanically carried her hand to her face. She found that a bandage 
covered her eyes. 

" Don't touch that ! " said a rough voice in her ear, and at the same 
time a hand seized hers and thrust it down. 

" Where are you taking me to, and what do you want with me ? " asked 
the poor child, hardly daring to speak. 

" Don't talk now. You will know when we arrive at our journey's end. 
All that I can tell you is that no one intends to do you harm. And now, once 
for all, I warn you that it is useless to try to escape or to call for help. 
We are far from Paris, out in the open country ; there's no one near, and 
it would only result in your being gagged." 

The man — for in the voice, whose tone was purposely disguised, Jeanne 

recognised that of a man— was evidently lying. They could not be so far 

rorrT Paris as that. Two or three times, in spite of the bandage which, 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 39 

covering her ears as well as her eyes, rather deadened her hearing, in spite 
of this bandage, she had noticed sounds, voices and cries which proved that 
they had not left the town. It is true that for the last few moments she 
had not heard these sounds ; but she could only conclude from that that 
they had just passed the fortifications and entered some deserted street. 
The cool air which Jeanne suddenly felt on her shoulders showed that they 
were driving under trees, like those of a park or the large avenues which 
surrounded the Ecole Militairre. This was all that she could guess, for she 
did not know how long her swoon had lasted and, a3 a consequence, how 
far the carriage had gone. But, as far as she could make out, they were 
not far from their starting-point, and must be at that moment going in the 
direction of Grenelle. 

Poor Jeanne was wrong ; the trees which she divined were those of the 
Forest of Vincennes and the carriage, turning to the left, took the direction 
of Nogent. There is on the edge of the forest a constant succession of 
villas, which the tenants, Parisian men of business for the most part, only 
occupy during the summer months. In the winter someone in the neigh- 
bourhood, to whom the keys have been entrusted, comes every three or 
four days to open the windows for a few hours. From the month of 
October the few persons who still remain there are in almost complete 
solitude. This is the case, however, in almost every suburb of Paris. A 
sensational trial has shown us fhat at Chatou, in the middle of the village, 
one fete-day, a man was entrapped and assassinated ; that his murderer 
carried his body in a child's carriage for a distance of at least five hundred 
yards, threw it from a bridge into the river, returned home, and regained 
Paris without having been seen by a single witness. If chance, or, to be 
more correct, Providence, had not caused the unfortunate Aubert's body 
to float as far as Pecq, Fenayron and his wife would never have had the 
least suspicion rest on them ; never would anyone have guessed what had 
happened in the villa, now demolished, in the Rue d'Espremenil. 

It was to just such a villa that Jeanne was being carried, and all precautions 
were taken, not only to prevent her escape, but — and this was most important 
— to prevent -her seeing or beingseen by asoul. Atthefront of the house ahigh 
gate, protected inside by panels of wood painted green, formed the entrance 
to the garden, which was rather small, but was filled with shrubs and small 
trees which, although stripped of their leaves, formed a screen which it was 
impossible to see through. In the middle of this garden stood the villa, 
two-storied, and built over a basement in which were situated the servant's 
offices. By a precaution fully justified by the depredations of burglars the 
windows of the ground-floor were barred, and those of the first floor 
secured by stout padlocks. Everything was thus perfectly quiet. It 
would have been possible, if necessary, to commit a crime there without 
fear of detection. It was here that Jeanne was brought. She was made 
to ascend to a room on the first-floor and sit down in an armchair ; then 
she felt someone taking off the bandage. The strong light of a lamp 
placed on a round table in front of her rather dazzled her eyes, accustomed 
to darkness for the last two hours. But she recovered and looked about 
her. She was in a large room, simply but comfortably furnished. A large 
bed, two armchairs, a dressing-table, a work-table, a few pictures on 
the walls, a square carpet on the floor, and one door, with a bolt on 
the inside. Standing before her, a young man, gentle and sad-looking, 
seemed to be waiting. He noticed the look which she had cast in the 
direction of the door, and said in a voice which contrasted strangely 



40 DISPATCH AND SECRECT. 

with the rough one which Jeanne had heard in the carriage : " You have 
nothing to fear, mademoiselle, no one will enter this room without your 
permission. " 

" But where am I ? What am I wanted for ? Why have I been brought 
here ? " cried Jeanne, with agitation. 

"Questions to which I may not reply. The only thing that I can repeat 
to you is, that you are in no danger ; you can sleep without fear and eat 
and drink what is brought to you; it is only of importance that you should 
be away from Paris for a few days." 

He bowed, walked backwards to the door, opened it and disappeared. 
Jeanne heard him lock it. In spite of what he had just said to her she 
hastened to push the bolt, after having made certain that it was a strong 
one, and that the screws had not been taken out beforehand. Then, taking 
the lamp, she carefully examined the four walls, moved the furniture, 
lifted the carpet to see whether the floor was not pierced by a trap-door, 
and, a little reassured by this investigation, sat down again in her chair. 
She was worn out with fatigue. But, however great the suffering it 
caused, she was determined not to go to sleep ; she took up her position 
opposite the lamp, with the flame quite close to her face, in order to defy 
sleep. But little by little an uncontrollable stupor took possession of her 
senses ; her eyelids grew heavy and then closed ; she leaned back in her 
chair. She was asleep. 



XI. 

DOLORES. 

Fctll of zeal for the mission with which lie had been entrusted, the 
journalist Gratien Voiville scoured Paris to arrange Clairac's duel with 
Pringy. He had gone to the artist Benassit's, in the Sue Lepic. But the 
poor painter, already struck by the first of those paralytic attacks which 
are so painfully ruining his career, and which have just obliged his friends 
to organize an exhibition for his benefit, had been forced to refuse. Voiville 
did not give in. He had visited a quantity of studios, and after having 
made several vain attempts, had succeeded in finding a second who would 
consent to attend the duel without knowing the cause of it. Pringy, for 
his part, had had less difficulty. Having been waited upon by Voiville, he 
had named at once two seconds, two cavalry officers encountered at the 
Cafe du Helder, and who, when he had informed them of the conditions of 
the duel, had raised not the least objection. 

The meeting between the seconds took place at five o'clock. By six 
all was settled, and the journalist went to announce it to Paul Clairac. 
The latter awaited him in his studio, that magnificent studio in the Place 
Pigalle that all artistic Paris has visited. 

" Well? " asked the artist, who was striding up and down, blowing into 
the air the smoke from a cigar, which, in his impatience, he was literally 
causing to blaze. 

" Well, it's all settled ; you are to fight to-morrow morning at seven. I 
could not arrange it earlier. It's hardly daylight." 

" That doesn't matter. And the weapons ? " 

" Swords, naturally. Naturally also the fight will stop when one of the 
combatants shall be unfit to go on. " 



DISPATCH AND SECRKCT. 41 

" I should have preferred to the death." 

" Ah ! my dear fellow, that's too much. But, all the same, your 
opponent doesn't look like a man who would stop for a scratch. C'onse 
quently you can go on as long as you please." 

" Good. And the seconds know nothing? " 

" Of course not. I should not tell them, should I ? We shall give it out 
that the cause of the duel was a political argument. That will go down 
well enough just now." 

"Good," interrupted Clairac, throwing away his cigar and lighting 
another, " and where does the fight take place ? " 

" Officially, as usual, on the Belgian frontier. In reality no further off 
than the Plateau d'Avron. I know a little nook there, just the place, on 
the site of an old Prussian redoubt. Two duels have been fought there 
already without interruption. You will thank me for the suggestion." 

" I thank you now. But leave me, my friend. I have many things 
to arrange." 

"Nonsense, don't get those gloomy ideas into your head, at any rate. 
I've seen you fence ; your wrist's right enough. Ah ! by-the-bye, if you 
"would like a last lesson, go to young Mengnac's, in the Rue Monsieur-le- 
Prince ; he's a fellow that makes no fuss, but no one will coach you like he 
jrill, and upon my word — " 

" Thanks again, my friend. Excuse me, but, I repeat, I want to be left 
Jlone." 

" Good-bye till to-morrow, then," said the reporter, holding out his hand ; 
: ' we shall call for you at half-past five. " 

" I shall rely on you." 

"Good-bye, then, and a good night. Go to bed. You must be composed 
and rested." 

"Thanks." 

Clairac waited until the reporter's footsteps had died away. Then he 
sat down at a little table, and wrote : 

' ' Jeanne, — I have been very disloyal towards you . For a minute, excited 
by infamous calumnies which were told me, with an appearance of truth, I 
doubted you, I doubted your fidelity, your love. You must have thought 
my sudden departure this morning strange. You will understand it now. 
But wil' you forgive me ? I shall never forgive myself. If I had the 
courage to submit to the punishment which I deserve, I should exile myself 
for ever fr om your presence. In any case, I must never see you again, 
until I have revenged you, and punished the slanderer. Jeanne, I am 
going to fight a duel to-morrow morning. If God betrayed the justice of 
my cause, if chance were to go against me, I entreat you to grant me your 
forgiveness, and to believe that it is to merit it that I die. Good-bye, 
Jeanne, I love you. Paux.' 

After writing this letter Paul remained for a long time buried in thought. 
This was the only one that he had to write. An orphan, an only child, he 
had neither father, mother, nor sister to whom to confide his last thoughts. 
A vision, however, floated across his mind. He saw pass, as in the murky 
night, a shadow, the shadow of a woman. Little by lit M e this shadow 
grew more distinct. It seemed to Paul as if this woman were close to him, 
touching him. And this woman was not Jeanne de Rieumes. No, Jeanne 
was young, slight, pale, fair. The woman who stood beside him, in all the 
ripeness of her thirty years, was tall and strong ; surrounding her face, 
lighted up by the warm southern sun, her black hair fell like a silky 



42 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

mantle over her bare shoulders. Paul remembered. He knew this woman 
well ; he had known her but too well. 

Five years before, Paul Clairac, then at the School of Pine Art, had 
gone to pass a year in Rome. It was Carnival time, that Italian Carnival 
so different from our cold and pitiful Carnival in France. According 
to custom the students at the Roman School took an active part in all the 
fetes ; Paul and his comrades were in no wise behind-hand. They gave 
themselves over to the festivities with !all the " go " of the celebrated 
furia francese. But that year there was an additional attraction for them. 
A rich and beautiful foreign lady had invited them all to a soirfe which, so 
it was said, promised to be something exceptional. None of them would 
have missed being there ; for this stranger, in addition to her wealth, her 
splendid beauty, and her cordial and charming hospitality, was surrounded 
by the attractions of a mysterious existence. Her name, no less than her 
country, was a matter of uncertainty. 

According to some she was Spanish, others said a South American. 
At Rome she was known under the name of Madame Wilson, and was said 
to have lost her husband, a millionaire merchant of New York, at the age 
of twenty -five ; but there are so many Wilsons in New York that in- 
quisitive people had not been able to discover to what family or to what 
branch of commerce the deceased had belonged. Now, in the course of 
their investigation, these good people, it appears, had heard it said that in 
London, where the beantiful American had stayed some little time, she had 
been seen in the company of her husband, a hidalgo, of the bluest blood, 
like all hidalgos, and who owned a whole catalogue of sonorous names and 
titles. A fact which gave this story an air of truth was, that there was 
staying at this time with Madame Wilson a cousin, a pure-blooded 
Spaniard, a charming man, by-the-bye, but a ferocious guardian, and whose 
name was Don Pedrillu Moreno de la Concha, Marquis de la Habana, 
Comtc de San-Fernando y Galiano, lieutenant-general in the service of His 
Catholic Majesty, and decorated with a round dozen of various orders. 
This cousin, said scandal, was the late official London husband. But 
scandal only said this beneath its breath, for Don Pedrillo was a first-rate 
swordsman, and two or three young Romans who had been too free with 
Madame Wilson had been laid low, grievously wounded by thenoble Spaniard. 

Well, in spite of this lesson, people told of something still more strange. 
Certain young Spaniards maintained that they recognised in Madame 
Wilson a ballet-girl who danced the bolero and cachucha during the evening 
in the public squares of Madrid, whilst lieutenant-general Pedrillo de la 
Habana went round with the hat. True or false, this tittle-tattle had 
damaged the reputation of the foreigner with the Italian nobility. But 
she seemed to care little for making friends, and she found amongst the youth 
eager for pleasure enough company for her fetes. This evening of the 
Carnival, when, for the first time, Paul Clairac had been invited to one of 
these fetes, happened to be the fair Spaniard's last evening in the Eternal 
City. The young artist had determined not to fail to be present. 

The fete was splendid. Every refinement of luxury and pleasure had 
been brought into requisition by the organiser. The rooms of Madame 
Wilson's palace were like fairyland. Introduced to the mistress of the 
house, Clairac, rather dazzled by her luxuriant beauty, had strolled round 
the two dance-rooms, and drawn aside for a moment into the embrasure of 
a window from whence he could gaze upon the charming sight of all these 
costumes, varied toilets and dazzling beauties. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



43 



"Are you sulking, sir?" suddenly asked a voice whose musical riag 
vibrated to the depths of his heart, whilst a velvety arm was laid upon 
his. 

Clairac, as if starting from a sound sleep, recognised the queen of the 
fete, Madame Wilson — the princess — as she was called by her intimate 
friends. He took the enchantress's arm in his own and replied, smiling, 

"No, madame, I was lost in admiration. " 

' ' Of what ? The f 6te or the women ? " 

"Of both." 

' ' And who, pray, merits the rose of beauty or the crown — ? " 

Clairac raised his eyes and, for the second time, was so dazzled by the 
Spaniard's truly intoxicating beauty that he was on the point of falling at 
her feet and crying: "You! you alone!" But he restrained himself and 
said in a rather affected voice : 

" There are several who deserve the rose. As for the crown, one brow 
only can wear it, and that brow, madame, it is needless for me to name ; 
Rome has for a long time past recognised her sovereign. " 

Madame Wilson smiled, and leaning on the arm which she had, so to say,' 
taken possession of, she began to make the round of therooms. The object of 
everyone's gaze, Paul was during this promenade the envied and the 
criticised of all. But the attractions of his companion were such, the 
charm so great, the conversation so absorbing, that he did not even take 
any note of the fact. When she left him it seemed as if part of his soul had 
gone with her. He stood there in ecstasy at the remembrance of the 
delicious quarter of an hour which he had just passed under the empire of 
the enchantress. One of his companions interrupted this ecstasy. 

"Take care, Paul," said he; "the cousin was looking very queerly at 
you just now. You might find yourself with some awkward business on 
hand." 

Paul shrugged his shoulders. But, strolling into the card-room for a 
few minutes, a spectator, in stepping back, trod on his foot. He lost his 
temper. The awkward onlooker, who was no other than Don Pedrillo y 
Moreno de la Habana, laughed in his face. They fought the next morning. 
The Spaniard, who fenced like a professor, ran him through the shoulder, 
and Paul was confined to his bed for a fortnight. When he was able to 
get up, " the princess " and her cavalier had left Rome ; but an old beggar 
who used to wander about the streets holding out a greasy hat to passers- 
by, one day gave the young artist a letter addressed to him. This letter 
made an appointment with him at Naples, on the shores of the marvellous 
bay, under the most beautiful sky in the world, the most glorious sun in 
Italy, that land of sun. Clairac would have journeyed to hell ; he under- 
took the journey without further delay, braving the hidalgo and his rapier 
for a smile from the princess who summoned him. But neither the hidalgo 
nor his rapier appeared. Dolores — thus she still called herself — was alone, 
alone with a faithful maid, and, on his arrival, the young man was admitted 
to an interview for which he had not dared to hope. 

There were three months of mad love, frantic, terrible love, at the end of 
which — one gets tired of everything, even, and especially, of love — satiety 
came, not for Dolores, but for her lover. Paul began to hate this semi- 
solitude which at first had appeared to him so delicious. At first, he asked 
leave to take a few walks ; he did not know Naples nor its surroundings, 
and it was natural for him to wish to visit them a little. To begin with, 
he only went out for a few hours at a time, returning soon in order to 



44 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

calm his mistress's jealous anger. Then, little by little, he extended the 
duration of his absences ; then, one day, he did not come back at all. 
Two days later astonished Rome heard of Madame Wilson's return. The 
princess, like a furious lioness, came to reconquer her Paul. He yielded, 
but only to escape her again. In proportion as Paul loved her less, she 
felt her love for him increase. And, by a strange phenomenon, in proportion 
as she became more enamoured of him, Paul perceived that his passion 
gave place to a kind of terror. He was afraid of this woman ; yes, afraid ! 
and he ardently desired a rupture. This rupture came one day, and on 
that day it was Dolores herself who, at Paris, whither she had followed 
him, told her lover that she would give him back his liberty. Since then 
he had never seen her. 

Why, at this solemn moment, when lie was about to fight for Jeanne's 
honour, did Dolores' face appear to him ? He asked himself the question 
with agony ; he dismissed it in vain ; he thrust it away in despair. 
Stubborn, it remained there, like a phantom. The sound of a voice roused 
him from this species of stupor. His servant was denying the door of his 
studio to some one. 

" I tell you, I must speak to him instantly," cried an excited voice. 

" Colonel de Rieumes ! " said Paul. " Can he know the truth already?" 

He hastened to open the door. The colonel, gasping, pale, his face 
convulsed, threw himself into his arms. 

" What is the matter ? " asked Clairac, dumbfounded. 

"Ah, my lad, bad news, bad news ! Jeanne, disappeared, carried off ! " 



XII. 

THE DUEL. 

"Carried off! What ! by whom?" cried the young man, terrified. 

" I know nothing. I rushed to you to know whether you knew anything, 
whether you had any idea — your sudden departure this morning made me 
think that something serious was in the wind. In fact, I was rather vexed 
with you for not having confided your secret to me, but everyone to his 
own business. After dinner, I wanted to see a friend, an old African 
comrade. We don't often meet, and we had a long chat, and — when I got 
home — ah ! my lad ! " 

The poor old man, bursting into tears, stopped. 

" Ah ! it's horrible ! " cried Clairac, terrified. " This is part of a mys- 
! ■ rious plot which is gradually unfolding itself. And I, I who— But no, I 
have the night to myself. Come along, colonel, come, perhaps we shall 
find her." 

Colonel de Rieumes, stunned with grief, allowed himself to be led away. 
Clairac sent for a cab, and they both, in spite of the late hour, drove to the 
prefecture of police. The prefect was not at home, but they roused the 
secretary on duty, who was sleeping, dressed, on a camp bedstead. Paul 
stated briefly to him what had happened. 

" And you suspect no one ? " asked the secretary. 

" No one— that is to say — but, there, it's a long story. At an ordinary 
time it would be wrong to tell you ; but, under the present circumstances 
it must be done. I am going to fight a duel to morrow morning with an 
old friend of mine, the Comte de Pringy." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 45 

"Well?" 

" I am fighting him because he came and called for me at Colonel de 
Rieumes' house, and tried to persuade me not to marry Mademoiselle de 
Rieumes — she who has disappeared. Might not this fact have something 
to do with her disappearance? " 

" Perhaps, indeed. Had he paid any attentions to her before ? Excuse 
this question, gentlemen ; everything must be told here." 

" He did not know her. He had hardly ever met her in society." 

" Then you don't think it was a case of jealousy, rivalry ? " 

"Impossible." 

" Then, why should M. Pringy— ? " 

"Why! why! That is just what we are asking you," cried the colonel, 
with a burst of despairing rage. " If we knew we should not be 
here. " 

"Excuse me, colonel, but, if I question you, it is in your interest, it is 
in order to endeavour to arrive at some data. " 

" True, sir, but I am so hard hit." 

" Listen. I shall communicate immediately with the commissary and 
magistrate. An inquiry will be opened to-morrow morning. Perhaps the 
police on beat in the Rue de Bellechasse may have something useful to tell 
us ; perhaps some information might be picked up amongst the shopkeepers. 
In the meantime, so that things may be hurried forward, for it is an urgent 
case, I will send you to the chief of police." 

The chief of police had just received his ten o'clock report and consequently 
was at liberty. He listened with a slightly sarcastic smile to the story of 
the two men. Too polite to raise the least shadow of suspicion as to the 
virtue of the young girl who had disappeared, he remained none the less 
persuaded that Mademoiselle de Rieumes, not feeling inclined to marry 
Clairac, and having some other love affair running in her head, had of her 
own free will left her father's roof in order to force him to give his consent. 
Accordingly he did his best to reassure the colonel, promising him that 
within four and twenty hours he should receive news of his daughter. If 
M. de Rieumes had had his own way, they would have gone straight to M 
de Pringy's, who, according to him, should know everything. The chief 
of police had to employ all his tact to dissuade him, assuring him that it 
would spoil their chance of success. Instead of this, he promised to make 
inquiries secretly amongst his servants, in order to try and get at the 
circumstances of Jeanne's departure. 

M. de Rieumes and Paul Clairac returned home to the Rue de Bellechasse. 
But there, in spite of all their efforts, they could learn nothing beyond 
this : A young man had sent a letter up to Jeanne, and Jeanne had at once 
gone out. A search was made for the letter, but without success. The 
morning came, seven o'clock struck. Pringy and his two seconds arrived 
at the Plateau d'Avron. Their cab stopped half-way up. They got out 
and gained the top of the plateau. The rendezvous was the old redoubt, 
from which, on the 29 th December, 1870, the auxiliary artillery, after 
having heroically withstood for several hours the Prussian guns, were 
forced to retire with the remnant of the troops, beneath a rain of shells. 
The ruined redoubt was deserted. 

" We are here first, gentlemen," said Pringy. " We have only to wait 
for our opponents." 

" Let's hope that won't be long," added one of the officers, stamping his 
feet ; " it's cold enough, in all conscience." 



46 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"Their cab was late, perhaps," remarked the other second. " It's only 
just seven, there's the quarter of an hour's grace." 

" That's true, but, when one has to wait, and in weather like this— 
Ugh ! Were you here at the siege ? " 

"Yes, I was with "Vinoy's army." 

" Ah ! I wasn't. I was in the east. You might explain the positions to 
me. There's a good view from here. What wt>.s the exact position of the 
Prussians on the day of Champigny ? " 

"There, opposite the fort, masked by earthwork trenches. Come closer 
here, you will be able to see — " 

The two officers had forgotten the duel, and the wait, and the cold. They 
were talking battles. The count, wrapped in a warm pelisse, but insensible 
in any case to cold, had sat down on the trunk of a tree and was thinking 
over all the events which had happened in so short a time. An exclamation 
from his two seconds recalled him to the present. 

" Here they are at last ! " they cried. 

A cab was seen painfully crawling up the hill. Out of this cab stepped 
Gratien Voiville, the reporter, and the other second, a tall young man with 
a fair beard. Both of them approached, running. 

" You are late, gentlemen," said one of the seconds. " But as you are 
here, it's all right. Let us measure out the ground." 

' ' Alas ! " cried the reporter, with a gesture of despair. 

" Alas !" repeated the fair young man with the same accent and the 
same gesture. 

" Medenc, my good fellow, keep quiet and let me explain matters." 

" Explain, explain," sighed the young man. 

"We had arranged a meeting, as you know, for this morning at seven. 
We had to call and fetch our man at half -past five. Punctually at half- 
past we arrived at the Place Pigalle, thinking to find Clairac dressed and 
ready. Not a bit of it. We rung, no answer. At last a servant with a 
sleepy face condescends to appear at a window and announces to us that 
M. Clairac left home yesterday evening with Colonel de Rieumes and they 
have waited in vain for him all night. 

" To put it plainly, our adversary has disappointed us." 

"How can I help it ?" cried Voiville despairingly. "We went off to 
Colonel de Rieumes, at the other end of Paris ; no one came to the door ; 
time was passing, we thought we ought to inform you of this deplorable 
incident and make our excuses — " 

"And write the account," added Medenc. 

"And write the account, as my friend says." 

" Allow us, first of all, to go and inform our friend of the facts." 

"Certainly, that's only right." 

The two officers went up to Pringy, who was awaiting, a few yards away, 
still sitting on the trunk of the tree, the result of the consultation. His 
opponent s absence surprised him strangely. He knew Paul, he knew that 
he was brave and loyal, and incapable from shrinking from a sword. And, 
besides, was it not he who had insisted on the duel ? What had happened, 
and for what reason had Colonel de Rieumes taken Paul away? He was 
seeking in vain for an explanation of all these mysteries, when suddenly a 
man, his face livid, reeling, his clothes disordered, appeared on the top of 
the plateau. It was Clairac. After having passed the night in a fruitless 
search, he arrived, anxious to encounter his opponent, supposing his seconds 
had gone off without waiting for him. On seeing him in this state each 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



47 



man gave vent to a cry of surprise. He took no notice of this, and ap- 
proaching Pringy : 

" Excuse me for being late, sir, " said he, in a broken voice, "but you 
yourself are somewhat to blame for it ; I have passed the night in comfort- 
ing a despairing father and in seeking with him her whom you have caused 
to disappear, after having slandered her." 

" What ! " cried the count, " Mademoiselle de Rieumes ! " 

" Silence ! you know well that no name must be mentioned here. That 
one less than another ; and now take your sword, and defend yourself, for, 
I swear to you, I will not spare you. " 

The seconds had undone the cloth which covered the swords. They 
measured them, compared them, and drew lots for positions. 

"I thought you were to have brought a doctor," said one of the officers 
to the journalist. 

" It is unnecessary. Mederic Desnard, my friend, is about to take his 
degree ; he will be sufficient. I, too, have studied medicine. " 

"Enough." 

The opponents were placed in position. There was a moment's hesita- 
tion, Pringy and Clairac looking steadily at one another. Paul Clairac, 
being impatient, was the first to attack. The count, more composed than 
his adversary, parried and broke ground. Clairac took a step forward. 
This time Pringy, with a twist of the wrist, turned aside the sword, which, 
slipping from Clairac's hand shaking with fever, fell to the ground. The 
count, pale in his turn, lowered his weapon and waited. Voiville picked 
up Clairac's sword and put it into his hand again. The signal was given 
afresh. The artist rushed for the third time on his adversary, and the 
impetuosity of his attack was such, that a stain of blood appeared on the 
count's shirt sleeve on a level with his shoulder. 

"Hold, gentlemen ! one of you is wounded ! " cried one of the officers, 
throwing himself between the two combatants. 

"It's nothing," said Pringy, rolling up his sleeve and showing a tiny 
wound ; "nothing but a scratch." 

" It is only skin deep," pronounced the fair Mederic, doctorally. 

" I formally demand to go on," said Clairac, in a stern voice. 

"Be it so. Continue, gentlemen." 

The combat began again, Clairac still attacking, the count parrying and 
breaking, without replying. He was satisfied with defending himself. 
He was averse to attack. 

" You are wrong to spare me," shouted Clairac, with foam on his lips; 
" it is one more insult added to the rest." 

And he rushed with such fury on his adversary, that the latter could not 
parry. For the second time Clairac's blade touched flesh, but the sword 
which Pringy grasped, and which he mechanically extended, buried itself 
in Clairac's chest. He reeled, his weapon fell from his hand, a stream of 
blood spurted from the wound. 

"A good sign," said saw-bones Mederic, who had knelt down by his side ; 
" it's better that the blood should flow ; with these confounded triangular 
blades there's always a danger of internal haemorrhage. If no important 
organ has been wounded — " 

" Do you require us, gentlemen ? " asked the count's seconds. " We are 
at your disposal. " 

"Thanks. Be so good as to help us to carry the wounded man to your 
carriage. ' 



48 DISPATCH AND SECBECY. 

Four of them raised poor Paul in their arms. He had lost consciousness. 
When they had placed him comfortably on the cushions of the vehicle, 
Voiville and Mederic thanked the officers, who, having bowed to them, 
went up to Pringy. The latter had sat down again on the tree trunk 
and was holding his head in his hands. The measure of his grief was full 
now. Mademoiselle de Bieumes had fled, and he had just wounded, perhaps 
killed, his best friend ! All this in consequence of the visit which he had 
paid two days before to the Loyal-Francceur agency. He had been put in 
the way of bringing about a pretty state of things in return for his ten louis. 
And yet, he would like to see this mysterious individual again, to know, 
to know something more — The demon of curiosity, the madness for intrigue 
urged him on. Why had Jeanne fled ? Because she had found that her 
secret was discovered ; because she had guessed that Paul Clairac would 
soon know all. Poor Paul ! In his loving credulity he had been ready 
to give his life for his illusion. How bitterly did Pringy regret the 
involuntary wound which he had been forced to give him ! The count got into 
his carriage with his two seconds, and having reached Paris again, took leave 
of them. He returned home, changed his clothes, tore up the few letters 
which he too had written before the duel, and drove down to M. Loyal- 
Francoeur's. 

XIII. 

RUE TAILLE-PAIN. 

Nothing had changed in the Ptiie des Chantres. The court-yard was still 
just as crowded'owing to the divers industries which were carried on there. 
The stairs were just as dark, and at the first ring the little hump-back 
came as before to open the door. After the summary questions which we 
are already acquainted with, Pringy was taken into the waiting-room. 
The little hump-back pointed to a chair and went on with his writing. 

" Will M. Loyal-Francoeur be disengaged soon?" asked the count after 
the lapse of a few minutes. 

" I don't know. He's not here." 

" He will soon come in, I suppose ? " 

"I think so." 

' ' You can't tell me where he is ? " 

" My master never informs me of his movements." 

"Do you think I should find him here in an hour's time ? " 

" I don't know." 

Pringy was strongly inclined to take the little monster by his hump and 
shake him well. But he reflected that it would only result in a disturb- 
ance ; that the hump-back would cry for help ; that someone would come ; 
that he would be discovered in this den, where he had no wish to be seen. 
He preferred another method, and, taking a louis from his pocket, he went 
and placed it on the documents which the little clerk was industriously 
copying. The latter said nothing, but his eyes flashed. He closed his 
blotting-pad, put it into a drawer, under lock and key, and said in a most 
gracious tone : 

" I know perfectly well where my master is ; but the fact is, he doesn't 
like to be disturbed there. If you will promise not to follow me — " 

Pringy placed a second louis oil the desk. The hump-back began to 
laugh. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



49 



"There ! after all, there's not much to be made out of this shop," said 
he. " Come back in a quarter of an hour, the master will be here." 

Pringy went out. The little clerk shut the door, tumbled down the 
stairs and ran along the Quai aux Fleurs in the direction of the Pont 
i'Arcole. 

• • • 

The place to which the little clerk went, and where M. Loyal-Francoeur 
iid not like to be disturbed, was his friend Madame Broussel's house, in 
bhe Rue Taille-Pain, at the corner of the Rue Brise-Miche. In the 
" Wandering Jew " Eugene Sue draws a mournful picture of the Rue Brise- 
Miche : "Enclosed between two immense walls, black, filthy, and dilapida- 
ted, whose height always prevents a fresh current of air and light, it is 
only during the longest days in summer that the sun manages to throw a 
few uncertain rays there ; and during the damp cold of winter an icy and 
penetrating fog always obscures this species of oblong wall, with its miry 
street." The Rue Brise-Miche, thanks to the recent demolition of a build- 
ing, has become larger and more improved ; but the sinister portrait which 
Eugene Sue drew of it can with great propriety be applied to its neighbour, 
the Rue Taille-Pain, which connects it, by a kind of elbow, with the Rue 
du Cloitre-Saint-Merry. The two match well, and, as for their population, 
the author of " The twenty -four districts of Paris," M. Alfred d'Aunay, 
tells us that " in the fourteenth century these two streets bore such an ill 
name that the clergy of Saint-Merry asked authority from Parliament to 
drive out the women who inhabited them. The citizens made a demand 
in an exactly opposite sense. The citizens gained the day. " 

The house where Madame Broussel lived was quite in harmony with 
these two streets. The yellow f acade, painted and patched a hundred times 
over, bulged out as if always threatening to give way in the middle and 
throw two or three stories into the street. A low door, through which 
could be caught a glimpse of a damp, dark passage, and narrow windows with 
filthy panes mended in several places with paper stars. Finally, on the top- 
most floor, muddy dresses, damp mattresses, linen of every description 
drying on the window-sills — the whole livery of crapulous misery. Two 
floors, the first and the second, appeared to protest. On the first floor 
magnificent curtains of red cotton-cloth, hermetically closed, flamed above a 
sign — a chef d'o&uvre, representing a cabbage from which sprung a child who 
is receiving a lady wearing a hat with white plumes, blue ribbons, and a rose 
coloured dress puffed out by an enormous crinoline. The following in- 
scription appeared beneath : "MADAME BROUS SEL, certificated mid - 
wife, boarders taken." Madame Broussel was M. Loyal-Francoeur's 
"friend." Her apartments consisted of but three rooms, one having two 
windows looking on the Rue Taille-Pain ; the two others, which were very 
small, looked on the common court-yard, a veritable well, from which rose 
smells of grease and unhealthy dampness. Where could she lodge her 
boarders ? This was a mystery. 

On the second floor there was no sign, but on the window-panes had been 
pasted a whole collection of demons, of owls cut from picture books. This 
was the abode, the laboratory, the studio, whatever you like, of " Madame 
Honore, somnambulist, pupil of Mademoiselle Lenormand, necromancer, 
cartomancer ; reads the future by dreams and in coffee-grounds. The only 
one admitted to the different European Courts and received by the prin- 
cipal faculties; numerous certificates." Thus announced the placard 
nailed up at the entrance door. 



50 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

Between ourselves, it is only right to say that Madame Broussel and 
Madame Honors were one and the same person. A midwife on the first, 
a somnambulist on the second floor, a pander at need, this woman gave 
the inquiry-agent powerful assistance in his unholy operations. Did anyone 
wish to cause dissension in a family : to take advantage of a woman's 
naive credulity and persuade her to consult Madame Honori, somnambulist, 
was an easy thing, and witnesses could then declare that they had seen 
the unfortunate woman enter the house of Madame Broussel, midwife. The 
husband, warned in time, could himself verify the fact. Had a young 
girl, crushed beneath the weight of her fault, had the imprudence to go to 
Madame Broussel, midwife, to learn whether this fault was irreparable, 
M. Loyal-Francoeur, informed immediately of the fact, used threats to 
extort information from the girl, money from the lover, and was occasion- 
ally successful enough to get something worth having even out of the 
parents.. 

In spite of her " splendid connexions with the Academy, the Faculty of 
Medicine, and the different European Courts," Madame Honore' Broussel 
had on several occasions had little difficulties with the police. On the first 
of these occasions she had shown herself too complaisant with the daughter 
of a tradesman in the Rue Saint-Denis, who, being on the point of making 
a good marriage, had been anxious to avoid the consequences, already too 
evident, of a secret amour. The authorities, having little respect for 
manufacturers of angels, had begun to take proceedings against her. But, 
in consequence of some occult and powerful influence, these proceedings 
had been suddenly stopped and Madame Broussel restored to her clients. 
The second difficulty had arisen in consequence of a [series of magnetic 
soiries in which she had been reproached with having collected together 
young girls, who were too young, and gentlemen of a certain age. Al- 
though she maintained that these soirees were exclusively scientific, that 
the girls had only served as subjects, and that, if the lights were put out, it 
was solely to allow the spirits to manifest themselves, the police com- 
missary, a rough man, and a stranger to the occult sciences, had sent 
Madame Honor6 to Saint-Lazare, on the insulting charge of inciting minors 
to debaiich. This time also she got off, no one knew how, but she had 
escaped conviction. 

Madame Honore 1 Broussel, beneath her double identity, was, it may be 
seen, worthy of M. Loyal-Francoeur. These two beings were made to 
understand one another. Accordingly they gave one another mutual aid 
and protection. And, as a matter of fact, this is the case in this under- 
ground Paris ; inquiry-agents, registry-offices, copying-offices, transactors 
of short loans, dealers in pawn tickets, magnetisers and somnambulists, 
bone-setters and charlatans, brokers, matrimonial agents, dressmakers, 
panders, keepers of table d'hotes and gambling hells. All these band to- 
gether and form immense associations, veritable black gangs, to which each 
man lends his assistance, his experience, his connexions, the secrets which 
he surprises, the hidden sores which he discovers, and who, like the octopus 
seize the unfortunate wretch who falls into their power, suck his blood, 
gnaw his flesh, and only abandon the skeleton when nothing is left but the 
bones, too hard to devour. 

Between M. Loyal-Francoeur and Madame Honore Broussel there was 
something better than a commercial association. These two lovely souls, 
these two noble hearts were unitedjn love. In spite of a husband, to whom 
she very often alluded, but whom no one had ever known, Madame Honore 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 51 

was M. Loyal-Francosur's mistress. As Charles IX went to Marie 
Tonchet's, so did M. Loyal-Francceur go to Madame Broussel's to forget 
for the time being his troubles and the fatigues of important affairs. They 
were finishing breakfast, and it might be said that they had breakfasted 
well, for the remains of numerous eatables strewed the cloth ; the dishes 
were placed at hazard, here and there, on the ground, and half a dozen 
empty bottles were ranged on one side of the table. Behind, lazily reclin- 
ing in a Voltaire armchair, Madame Honored her fat and massive person 
enveloped in a bine dressing-gown, her face flushed and pimpled, and her 
head covered with a cap adorned with blue ribbons, was holding to the fire 
two enormous feet enclosed in amaranth silk stockings and shoes down at 
heel. Opposite, also stretching his legs towards the fire, M. Loyal- 
Francoeur was looking over and setting in order numerous papers, on the 
cloth, between his cup filled with fine Mocha and a bottle of cognac two- 
thirds full. On the floor, a dog, a pug with watery eyes and massive pro- 
portions, like those of his mistress, was growlingly gnawing" a bone. 

" You are letting your coffee get cold, my dear," remarked the fat woman, 
without moving from her careless position. ' ' It won't be fit to drink 
directly. " 

" All right, all right," muttered the inquiry-agent. " Don't disturb me ; 
I've got my hands full just now." 

He returned to his papers. There was first of all a tiny letter, on cream- 
laid paper, pink paper which time had yellowed. This letter only con- 
tained a few lines, written in a fine, sloping hand. 

"I could not read your letter without being moved, madame. I will 
come and see you to-morrow. Have courage and hope. Jeanne de kieujmes. " 

By the side of this letter M. Loyal- Francos ur placed another exactly 
like it, paper as well as writing. Even the tenor was almost identical ; 
only, the word "madame "was replaced by the word "sir." Out of the 
encouraging letter addressed to a poor woman, unfortunate, no doubt, aud 
imploring help, had been made a most compromising letter addressed to a 
man. The inquiry-agent took up another little packet tied with a rose- 
coloured favour. This packet contained three more letters, still the same 
paper, the same ink, the same sloping writing. The first of these letters 
was couched in the following terms : 

July 8, 187— 

" What ! you still dare to write to me, after all I said to you. You must 
be mad ; it is risking discovery. Come to-night to the usual place and at 
the usual time. Burn all my letters ; do not fail to do this. Jeanne. " 

This letter, one may see, appeared to have been written long after the 
first one. It seemed as if several had intervened between these two. Two 
phrases especially were explicit : " After all I said to you," and " it is risk- 
ing discovery." There had been interviews, then ; circumstances to be con- 
cealed. Finally the appointment at " the usual place " left no doubt on the 
subject. In the other two letters the intrigue became more evident. 

One, dated a year later, in the month of August, announced the coming 
departure for school, from which she would not return. The other, of which 
several words were effaced, as if by tears, spoke in vague terms of a fault 
committed, a delicate situation, ruined future, shame to be concealed. It 
announced finally a proposed journey of Colonel de Rieumes, a " provi- 
dential absence," during which, perhaps, "the danger might be averted." 
This letter bore no signature, but the hand- writing was easily recognisable. 

"There's no mistake about it," muttered M. Luyal-Francoeur after 



52 DISPATCH AND SJiOBBCV. 

having minutely compared the three letters with the first, " there's no 
mistake about it, that rascal of a Vothier was a regular artist in his line. 
I defy all the experts of the Palace of Justice — from Monsieur Dularne who 
is employed by the Bank, to those of the Court of Judicature — Bertin, 
Belhomme, Violle and Gobert — to find in these letters one point, one stroke 
of the pen distinguishing them from the true one. It's beautiful ! it's 
perfect ! what a pity the fool got found out. This hand will lose its twin- 
ning on the He des Pins. After all, things are better so, perhaps. At least 
I've no fear of his taking it into his head to betray me." 

" You worry too much, pet," murmured Madame Honore. " You'll 
make yourself ill, for certain." 

"Ah ! but look at the game I'm playing," replied Monsieur Loyal with 
enthusiasm — with which the contents of the bottles was not wholly uncon- 
nected. " I'm tired of those two-penny cases which cause no end of bother 
and bring in just enough to make both ends meet. Why, in the Le Breton 
separation case," which lasted six months, in which I was almost assassinated, 
and in connection with which they wanted to put the police on my track, I 
hardly netted ten thousand francs. Again, for having . the .little duchess 
watched, for inventing the private room business, for having furnished un- 
deniable evidence of her adultery, I got two thousand five hundred francs, 
all told; I was all but being out of pocket by it. In these days people are 
meaner svery man than his neighbour. They want you to get them out of 
trouble and then be content with bare thanks. I've got a mine, I mean to 
work it. This time it's a question of the nice little sum of half a million francs." 

"Half a million ! " cried the fat woman, whom this remark had caused 
to prick up her ears. 

"At the very least ; so don't disturb me. I'm getting near the end. 
Just have a nap. You will wake up a rich woman, perhaps." 

Madame Honore got up, took the bottle of cognac and poured herself 
out a stiff glass. Then she sank down in her chair again, took the horrible 
pug on her knee and became immersed in a thrilling novelette. M. 
Loyal-Erancceur fastened the four letters up together and proceeded with 
the examination of the following document : 

FRENCH REPUBLIC. 
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, 
Prefecture of the Department of the Seine, 
Extracts from the mkiutes of certificates of births in the Fourth Division of 

Paris. 

M. Loyal-Francceur began to run through it. " Year one thousand eight 
hundred and eighty-four, on this evening, at five o'clock, appeared before 
us — Registrar, Philippine-Honore Broussel, midwife, living in Paris, No. 19 
Rue Taille-Pain ; the same brought to us a male child, born this day, at her 
house, at 11 a.m. The father, Victor Borin, aged twenty-nine, by profes- 
sion a clerk, mother unknown (Madame Broussel declining, according to 
professional etiquette, to give her name), to which child was given the name 
of Jean Marie Victor. " 

"Splendid!" interrupted M. Loyal, "Mademoiselle de Rieumes' two 
names, and that of papa." 

He continued. " Which said declaration and presentation were made in 
the presence of Jacques Nicolas Tourneur, aged fifty, commissionaire 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 53 

by profession, and Charles-August Barnier, aged thirty-seven, lawyer by 
profession, both dwelling in this town ; which said witnesses, together with 
the said Philippine-Honore Broussel and the said Victor Borin, father of 
the child, signed this document, it having been previously read to them. 
Signed : 

"Philippine-Honor^ Broussel, Victor Borin, A. Barnier, Jacques Tourneur. 
Faithfully copied, etc., etc. — Registrar. Duly authorised, etc., etc." 

To this document were attached two small printed slips, on separate 
paper. These were two declarations of the birth of the child Jean-Marie- 
Victor Borin. The papers were quite regular, good in law, provided with 
all the necessary authentications and stamps. A legal forgery ! What a 
terrible thing is this facility which the law gives of having a child registered 
exactly as one thinks fit. In order to procure a duplicate for a tornor lost pawn- 
ticket, one must bring forward two known witnesses, householders, licensed 
to carry on some business. In order to obtain a letter from the post restante 
or cash a money-order, one must furnish proofs of identity. But in order 
to give a child the name which he will bear all his life, two individuals 
picked up in the street are sufficient. With the complicity of an unscrup- 
ulous doctor or interested midwife it is the easiest thing in the world to 
manufacture a fancy identity, and, as the witnesses never appear again, as 
the forgers never betray themselves, the consequences of this administrative 
negligence may be very far-reaching. There is nothing to prevent a 
practical joker from thus manufacturing sham Montmorencys or La Roche- 
foncaults. It is true the law has provided for this case. The family whose 
name is thus usurped has the right to protest. But then it is important 
that they should know in time, before the intruder has compromised it. 
And even then, the claim necessitates a lawsuit, a lawsuit which lasts for 
years. A lawsuit during the course of which all one's secrets are revealed, 
those which exist and those that are invented, a lawsuit in which the law- 
yers drag the disputed name in the mud and soil it to such a point that, 
finally, he to whom the tribunal awards it, dare not pick it up and bear 
it. One can play fast and loose with the interpretation of the law, and 
Loyal-Francceur knew this well, being one of those who make it their own 
life and the death of others. Accordingly, Madame Honore' Broussel's 
faithful friend took infinite pleasure in the examination of these documents 
— all authentic and consequently valid. 

"Perfect! admirable!" repeated M. Loyal, the perusal terminated. 
" The thing is so natural, so simple : M. Victor Borin makes a proposal to 
Mademoiselle Jeanne de Rieumes, the latter does the haughty at first, then 
yields, vide letters. Meetings take place. The young lady discovers all 
at once that a little accident has happened. Ha, ha ! she pretends to take 
a journey — we shall prove it — and she comes to Madame Broussel, a discreet 
and prudent midwife, who takes upon herself the task of registering the 
child. But if the young mother has an interest in concealing her identity, 
it is quite otherwise with the father. He interferes, he recognises the child. 
What child ? That referred to in the letters. No, not a bit of doubt, it is 
evident, evident to the whole world. Splendid combination, sublime idea !" 

" Shall you be much longer, dear 1 " asked Madame Honored looking over 
the top of her novelette. 

" Leave me alone. Let me see, where was I ? " 

" You were saying that it was evident to the whole world." 

" Ah ! then you were listening to me ? " 

"Certainly, I saw that you were getting excited ; that made me uneasy, 



54 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

because, when you do that, it makes you ill ; shall I mix you some 
grog?" 

M. Loyal-Francoenr gave a smile of supercilious pity. " To think that I 
have associated my life with that thing," he murmured. "To think that I 
am going to make that vulgar old woman a millionaire's wife." 

"What do you say, ducky? "asked Madame Broussel again, "just a 
little hirsch grog, eh ? It's like velvet this weather. " 

"As you please," said M. Loyal, rather touched by this mark of 
attention ; then, taking up the thread of his ideas, he began again : 

" It was a good stroke of luck to fall in with this original and chivalrous 
count. He has done two-thirds of my work. I saw them yesterday, him 
and the painter. They looked furious. The chivalrous count thought he 
was fulfilling a duty, and told the other man everything. If they still 
retained the slightest doubt, the girl's disappearance would complete their 
edification. [Finally, in case of need, I could send them this document by 
the proper party. But I sha'n't need to do that. The marriage is broken 
off, irrevocably broken off, so I shall only have to present myself at the 
princess's to take the "pieces." Two hundred thousand francs, that's good. 
It's true that I've had trouble, responsibility, and expense. But never 
mind — " 

Madame Honor6 had mixed the grog. In spite of his careless air, M. 
Loyal-Francceur sipped his with unction. Then he continued his monologue : 

' ' Now, we have the girl disgraced ; I shall have her taken back to the 
paternal dwelling by Victor — the father of her child. If he is artful he 
has a good thing in hand ; the old colonel should act according to principle ; 
he will bestow on him the hand of the deserted beauty and five hundred 
thousand francs. Ha, ha ! I don't think he could do less than give me half, 
when I think that it only rests with me to clap him in prison, and I'm 
going to make a wealthy citizen of him. That will give me, at the very 
least, an income of ten thousand francs." 

"Still at work, darling?" asked Madame Broussel. "I shall have a 
nap, then." 

" Sleep, my dear, sleep," said M. Loyal paternally, getting up to imprint 
a kiss on his companion's bloated, bearded face. 

"Two and two make four," continued the agent, sitting down again. 
" Then there's the settlement with the ' princess.' " 

He put his hand in his side-pocket and took out a pocket-book. 

" This pocket-book must be very important, for its capture to have 
necessitated the death of a man," said he, becoming serious. "Now, the 
pocket-book for the sake of which we had the man killed, is in my posses- 
sion, so it is with me that the reckoning will have to be made. Is five 
hundred thousand francs too much for an article which warrants a murder ? 
No, certainly not. And, besides, the little lady is rich enough to make 
this sacrifice. Therefore, four and five, nine — nine hundred thousand 
francs shall I make out of this affair. It's a pity I can't make a million of 
it. But, there ! with what I've got put by, and a few little scrapings. A 
million ! a million ! mine, and without risk ! For I defy them to bring it 
home to me," clicking his thumb-nail against his book. " What shall I do 
when the money is mine ? " he continued, reflecting. " I shall start with — 
for Belgium or Italy." 

A sonorous snore from Madame Broussel interrupted him. 

"There !" said he, "hark at her snoring. — Shall I take her? She is 
very devoted, but she's old, and, with my money, I could get a prettier one, 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 55 

and a younger one — who knows ? Perhaps I might make a good match." 
Madame Honore continued to snore. 

"I should be a fool, aftur all, to burden myself with the old woman. 
She can't say anything. Isn't she the principal accomplice ? I've got a 
future before me. I certainly sha'n't leave France. I shall buy an estate 
in the country, I shall become popular. I shall get myself elected muni- 
cipal councillor, _ general councillor, deputy — M. Loyal-Francoeur, deputy ! 
Who knows, with a little cleverness — There are ministers who are not 
worth as much as I am ! " 

A violent ring interrupted M. Loyal-Francoeur 's dreams of greatness. 
Madame Honore, waking with a start, sprang from her chair. Marquis, 
the pug, burst into a furious barking. M. Loyal hastily collected all his 
papers and placed them in his pocket. 

"Go and open the door, pet," said he in a low voice. 

He disappeared into the kitchen. The midwife went grumbling to draw 
the bolts. She saw the pale face and lean figure of the little hump -backed 
clerk. 

XIV. 

HOW THE BEST COMBINATIONS ARE FOILED. 

" Beast ! brute ! " cried Madame Honore" furiously, " it's you ringing like 
that ? " 

" Master here ?" asked the hump-back, without troubling himself at the 
fat woman's insults. This was nothing to what the poor fellow had to put 
up with. 

"You know well that he has forbidden you to come and disturb him 
here, Mayeux ! What do you want with your master ? " 

"It's important business." 

"Come in, then, humpty ! you'll get a warm reception, dromedary! 
come in, and quick about it." 

With his usual tranquillity, although his pale face had contracted some- 
what beneath this flood of insults, expressly chosen, and reflecting on his 
infirmity, the clerk advanced to the table and stood there waiting until his 
master condescended to put in an appearance. 

"Well, what's the matter?" said M. Loyal-Francceur, entering, having 
heard the whole conversation from the kitchen. " What's going dk at the 
office?" 

" The gentleman who came the other day, the count, you know — " 

"Well?" 

' ' Has been twice. He says it's important and he must speak to you. " 

"You should have told him to wait." 

"He would not." 

" All right. Off you go, I'll follow you. Here, Zidore, have a glass." 
The hump-back's eyes glistened beneath his half -closed lids. The inquiry- 
agent took the bottle of cognac, uncorked it and held the mouth towards 
his own glass. But just at the moment of pouring out he changed his 
mind. 

" Ah ! no " said he, "that's my glass." 

" I'm not afraid to drink after you, sir." 

" It isn't that, but you would be able to read my thoughts. Ducky, a 
clean glass, my pet. " 



56 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

Ducky got up, and casting an irritated glance on the clerk took a glass 
from a cupboard, and threw, rather than placed it, on the table ; then she 
sat down without a word. 

" She doesn't spoil you much, my poor Zidore," said M. Loyal, laugh- 
ing. "But that's nothing, she loves you just the same, at heart. You 
love him at heart, don't you, darling ? " 

"It wouldn't do to have such a monster here, if I have boarders ; he 
might do them some harm." 

" That's good ! Now then, youngster, swallow it up and be off." 

The hump-back took the half-filled glass. His hand trembled. He 
looked for a moment at the transparent, golden liquid ; then, as if a spring 
within him had been suddenly touched, he threw it somehow into his 
mouth and swallowed it at one gulp. A scarlet patch mounted to his pale 
cheeks, he shuddered slightly. 

" It's good, good, good," he muttered. 

"And now, sling your hook!" cried M. Loyal, opening the door. 
Isidore started at a run. M. Loyal-Prancceur, after having imprinted a 
solemn kiss on Madame Honors Broussel's blotchy face, quietly followed 
him. The Comte de Pringy was impatiently waiting in the court-yard of 
No. 13. The little clerk appeared to him like a delivering angel. 

" Here you are at last ! " said he. 

" Yes, be good enough to step up, the master should be waiting there for 
you." 

' ' Nonsense ! how could he have got in ? " 

" Oh ! there's a private entrance." 

" So there is — Rue Chanoinesse. I read it on the prospectus, but I had 
forgotten it. Then I'll go up to him ? " 

"Yes." 

The little hump-back run up the stone steps with such feverish rapidity 
that the count had a difficulty in following him. They arrived at the 
entrance door and walked into the waiting-room. There the clerk stopped 
Pringy. He went to his desk and rung. Then he held his ear to the slit 
through which the letters were usually passed. After waiting a moment he 
came back to Pringy. 

" He's not ready yet," he whispered in his ear. 

"What do you mean, ' ready ' ? " 

" Not so loud. You're a good man, you are. I'll explain it to you." 

" Btft— " 

" Hush ! he's moving. We'll meet again, if you like. I shall have some- 
thing to tell you." 

"Speak then ; how much will that cost ? " 

"Hush, hush ! he's opening the door." 

It was true. At the door Pringy saw the same old fellow in the white 
wig, large goggles and flowered dressing-gown. 

' ' Welcome, M. le comte, my dear client ! " said M. Loyal-Prancceur in 
a cracked voice, 

Pringy looked at the little clerk. But, bending over his desk, the latter 
was copying with ardour and did not seem to notice what was going 
on. 

" There's some mystery about this that the little hump-back will reveal 
to me," said the count to himself. " I must wait." 

He entered the inquiry- agent's private room. The latter went and took 
his seat behind the bureau, blew his nose, coughed, and said : 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 57 

" Well, M. le comte, what did I tell you ? You are soon back here 
again, you see." 

" Some terrible things have happened since my last visit, " replied the 
count. 

" Indeed ! Have you any fault to find with me ? I think I only told you 
bhe simple truth — " 

"Yes, but this simple truth has caused some terrible catastrophes." 

" Impossible." 

" Paul Clairac's marriage with Mademoiselle de Rieumes is broken off." 

" I prepared you for that. There's nothing astonishing in it, for, you 
see — " 

"Mademoiselle de Rieumes has disappeared," continued the count, with- 
out paying any attention to the inquiry-agent's reflections. 

" Indeed ! where can she have gone ? " 

" That is what I shall have to ask you presently. But that is not all. 
Paul Clairac attributed all his business to me and I have fought him."' 

"Fought him ! What do you mean ? " cried the inquiry agent, whose face 
suddenly became overclouded. 

"That we fought a duel this morning, a duel in which I badly wounded, 
perhaps killed, my best friend. " 

" Wounded.! killed ! Paul Clairac ! " screamed M. Loyal- Francos ur, 
leaping np. " What do you say ? It's impossible ! " 

" Unfortunately it is not. " 

" You've killed Clairac, you? " 

" I'm afraid so." 

" But all would be ruined, I should have nothing left, there would be 
nothing for it but to pack up my traps — " 

" How so ? How does that affect you ? " 

"That affects me," continued Loyal-Francceur, who had recovered his 
calmness, " in this way, that you would certainly attribute the misfortune 
to me and would bear me an animosity which I do not deserve." 

" And yet you have been the cause of it all." 

" I ! come, come, my dear sir. What have I done ? Nothing. You asked 
me for some information, and I gave it you — according to tariff. It 
was for you to keep it to yourself or make use of it at your own risk and 
peril. If, thanks to this information — quite correct was it not ? — you opened 
the campaign, made a mess of things, caused misfortunes, killed people, is 
that my look out ? Certainly not. " 

" And yet, if you had not told me anything — " 

" I told you the facts ; I did not tell you what to do." 

" So be it ; but, as things stand now, what is your advice ? " 

" My advice. Nothing. It's no business of mine. " 

" What has become of Mademoiselle de Rieumes ? " 

" I know nothing about it." 

' ' Then what is the good of the promises on your prospectus ? " 

" Oh ! let us understand one another. If you ask me — just for curiosity 
--where Mademoiselle de Rieumes has gone, fleeing the scandal which you 
Breated — for it was you who created this scandal M. le comte ; for my part, I 
wash my hands absolutely of it — if you ask me that out of curiosity — " 

"Well?" 

" Well, I should tell you that it was not my business. If, on the contrary, 
you come as a client — " 

" I come, of course, as a client. Look here, for the last two days I have 



58 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

felt that I am in mischief, I have involuntarily done wrong, I must make 
amends for it." 

" You have a great soul. Then, you would like — ? " 

" To know where Mademoiselle de Rieumes is." 

"And how much would you pay for that ? " 

" You know then ? " cried Pringy, springing up. 

M. Loyal pushed his seat back a little and stretched out his hand towards 
one of the drawers of his bureau, as if he knew that this drawer contained 
a means of defence. 

" I ? I know nothing," said he, fixing his eye on the count. 

" But then — ?" said Pringy, sitting down again. 

" My dear sir," said the inquiry-agent, in a crushing tone, " don't forget 
this. I sell information, advice, and inquiries. There are things that I can 
provide on the spot, like what I told you the day before yesterday. There 
are others that I can only provide by a certain date. What you ask me 
to-day comes under the latter heading." 

"Well, when shall you know ? " 

"Ah! I can't tell you. That will depend on the difficulties, and — the 
price. How much will you give for it ? " 

" Oh, I don't know, but I'd willingly go as far as a thousand francs." 

M. Loyal-Francceur laughed drily. 

"A thousand francs !" he cried, "ha, ha, ha ! you would really make 
that effort ? But, my dear sir, I myself should give that to each of the 
agents that I set to work. " 

" How much would you want, then ? " said the count, taken aback. 

" What do you put Colonel de Rieumes' fortune at ? " asked the inquiry- 
agent, replying to one question by another. 

" I don't know ; about a million, perhaps." 

" Very well, his daughter is well worth half his fortune." 

" Five hundred thousand francs ! " 

"Exactly. And, between you and me, it would not be paying too much. 

" This is folly ! " 

' ' Well, my dear sir, go to the police. They won't ask anything, they 
won't." 

"But if the colonel consented, what guarantee would there be ? " 

" Look here, I'll make a reasonable proposal. For one hundred thousand 
francs down, I'll begin the investigations ; upon a promise of two hundred 
thousand francs if successful, I will produce the girl within a week. " 

" How will you manage it ? " 

" I don't know, and that's not your business. Hold ; will you have still 
better terms ? Not a sou in advance, but a regular engagement, a con- 
ditional engagement, and I will start." 

" I will go and see M. de Rieumes." 

" Go and try to persuade him." 

Loyal-Francoeur rang and Pringy went out, this time through the room 
by which he had entered. As he was going the hump-back coughed and 
looked at him with a smile of intelligence. 

" What does this poor devil want with me ? " thought Pringy. " After 
all, he is grateful. Perhaps he'll do me a service. It's a good thing to 
have a friend at court." 

As for Loyal-Francceur, he rubbed his hands. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 59 

XV 

IN WHICH M. LOYAL-FEANGCeUE'S STAR IS MORE AND MORE ON THE DECLINE, 

Pringy descended the stairs in deep thought. He thought of the enormous 
sum which the inquiry-agent had asked for undertaking the search for 
Jeanne. Although firmly convinced of Mademoiselle de Rieumes' guilt, he 
had suffered too much since the day before, firstly at Paul's grief, for he 
bore him a sincere affection, secondly at the necessity which had forced 
him to cross swords with him, and, in order to defend his own life, to wound 
him severely — he had suffered too much from all this not to be anxious, after 
due reflection, to make amends for his fault. Sincerely he regretted what 
he had done. Indignant at the girl's perfidy, he had not been able to resist 
the desire to unmask her. He asked himself now, whether he would not 
have done better to keep silence. How many couples are there in Paris, at 
the top as well as the bottom of the social ladder, in whose case the nuptial 
benediction has been preceded by adventures just as scandalous, and who, 
thanks to the mj'stery which reigns on the subject of those adventures, are 
happy, united, and respected. It would have been the same in this case. 
What most distressed the count was the blow which would fall on Jeanne's 
father, the brave Colonel de Rieumes, so loyal, frank and good. Who could 
have imagined either that this timid-looking girl could thus openly defy 
propriety 1 On going to warn Clairac the count had contemplated nothing 
more than a cold, decorous, and distant rupture, and not the kind of drama 
which was being played. 

" Yes, I must restore Jeanne to her father," said Pringy, as he descended 
the gloomy staircase ; " innocent or guilty, a daughter always holds a place 
in her father's heart. I am certain that the colonel would give his whole 
fortune to see her again, if only for an hour. He won't hesitate to accept 
this man's offer." 

But how should he speak to him of it, how start the subject ? He had 
really not the courage to go to her father and say to him : "It was I who 
broke off your daughter's marriage. It was I who was the cause of her 
flight. Give me two hundred thousand francs, as her ransom, and I take 
upon myself to restore her to you." When a man dare not speak he 
writes. This was the conclusion that the count came to. He wrote a 
letter to the colonel ; took it, for safety's sake, himself, and waited for the 
answer. 

M. Loyal-Francoeur had taken off his wig, his dressing-gown, and his 
goggles, and had again become the perfect notary whom we know. He 
walked along the Rue Chanoinesse, crossed the precincts of Notre-Dame, 
turned up the Rue de Rivoli, and arrived at the Place de la Bastille. 
There he entered the Vincennes station, and took a ticket for Nogent. 
Twenty minutes later he was in the forest, and at the little house where 
he had had Jeanne imprisoned. He knocked ; a young man came and 
opened the door. This young man was the same who had assured Made- 
moiselle de Rieumes that she had nothing to fear, the same one whom we 
saw in the Rue Saint-Jacques ; it was Victor Borin. 

"Good-day, Victor, good-day, my lad," said M. Loyal, entering the 
little cottage. " Well, how goes it ? " 

"Badly." 



60 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" How, badly ? The visitor—? " 

" She escaped in the night." 

"Escaped !" cried M. Loyal, whose dry voice betokened the greates 
grief. " Escaped ! impossible, you're joking ! " 

" There's no doubt about it." 

"Then you hadn't shut her in ? You hadn't padlocked the windows ? " 

" She broke the padlocks, and jumped." 

" From the first floor 1 " 

" From the first floor." 

M. Loyal-Francoeur flew, rather than ran, up to the first floor. He savi 
the bed untouched, the padlock broken, and, hanging to the window 
fastener, a cord of woollen stuff, which had served as a means of escape 
He became scarlet. 

"Ah! the jade ! the hussy ! " he cried, in a voice choked with rage 
"she has ruined me, it's disgraceful ! A thing for which I had made so 
many sacrifices — ! But, no, I won't let her sneak off like this. I musl 
catch her again, and I will ! " 

A prey to frantic rage, the inquiry-agent strode up and down the room 
He, so sly, so calm, so cold as a rule, was beside himself. He had beer 
wounded in the only vulnerable part of his base and venal person — money, 
He walked up and down, like a hyena in a cage, maddening himself at the 
flood of thoughts and schemes which crowded upon his brain. Victor was 
silent, patiently awaiting the end of the crisis. As always happens in such 
cases, M. Loyal-Francceur felt the need of wreaking his anger on someone. 
It was the young man who received the storm on his head. 

" You didn't keep a sharp look-out on her, eh ? What were you doing 
all night, lazy-bones, good-for-nothing, not to hear the noise she made 
escaping ? Asleep, eh, idiot ? you were asleep, or rather, no, you had an 
understanding with her. Yes, you had an understanding. Wretch, dog, 
thief ! " 

He paced up and down like a madman. The young man looked at him 
with an expression in which scorn was mingled with indignation. 

" Ah ! I ought to have known you from the first, vile scum ! " continued 
M. Loyal, in a paroxysm of rage. "I ought to have seen that you were 
not all above board. A bad lot for whom I was making a splendid position. 
Stupid fool that I was. I ought to have sent you to rot in prison, and let 
your mother and sister die of hunger, two hussies that have stolen from me 
the bread that they have been eating for the last three years." This was 
too much. The measure was overflowing. As long as it had been a question 
of himself, Victor had endured reproaches and insults. "But, his mother, 
his sister — ! 

"Very well, sir," said he, " from to-day forward, you will not have this 
burden to bear. I can no longer serve you. Let me go and seek elsewhere, 
for myself and my family, the bread which you sell me so dearly." 

"Eh!" cried the inquiry-agent, dumbfounded, "you want to leave 
me?" 

"Certainly." 

" And the money that you owe me ? " 

" My month's salary will be due in a few days. Keep it. I have been 
enough use to you in other ways to consider myself quits with you." 

" But I don't think so, and I shall go to the Public Prosecutor at once." 

" Go, then ; I would as soon have the thing done with. The bread with 

which you reproach me, I reproach myself with ; it seems to me to be 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 61 

poisoning the two poor women that I am deceiving. Denounce me, I shall 
go to prison, but my heart will be free." 

"He threatens me, upon my word," said the inquiry-agent, stupified. 

" Yes, I threaten, I rebel against the indignity to which you subject me, 
and, when I have spoken, you, too, will have to explain why you have 
adjourned your denunciation for the last three years, why you have 
accorded me your confidence, me, who am, as you say, a thief and a forger. 
You live by scandal. I have been taught in your school ; I will make a 
scandal, too ! " 

M. Loyal-Francceur was choking. Never would he have imagined 
such a thing. Victor, the poor and humble youth, whom he thought 
he had so completely in his power, he rebelled and threatened in his turn. 
His threats he did not fear, but they might ruin his plot, which, in spite 
of the check he had met with, he was determined not to abandon. 

"Come, you ungrateful fellow," said he, suddenly changing his tone and 
putting on that benignant air that had so captivated Madame Boriu ; 
"come, don't let us fall out. You know well that at heart I'm fond of 
you, that I love you, upon my word. Let us forget what has passed. 
Let us put our heads together and take measures against the misfortune 
that has happened to us. " 

But Victor shook his head. " No, sir," he replied firmly, " I have told 
you that I prefer the real prison to the moral one into which you have 
plunged me. Continue your way of life. All that I can promise you is, 
not to interfere with you, and even that is a sin that I shall have on my 
conscience. But as to having any connection with you in future, don't 
dream of it. My mother and sisters will suffer hunger, perhaps, but at 
least the little that I shall be able to give them will be honestly earned." 

" Very well, be it so, my dear Victor, let us part good friends. I wished 
your happiness, you repulse me. Good-bye, I will give you your month's 
salary without ill-feeling and wish you good luck." 

But Victor rose, took his hat and walked out without taking the hand 
which his late master held out to him. 

" You're getting a nuisance, my lad," muttered M. Loyal. "I wouldn't 
give much for your carcase. It's not a gnat like you that would impede 
Loyal-Francceur ! " 

He looked after Victor, who was walking rapidly away, and soon saw 
him disappear rormd a corner in one of the forest roads. 

"He's right, perhaps, after all," he sighed. "If this cursed jade has 
escaped, she will naturally lodge an information, 'raise hell,' bring here 
about my ears, to the house where she has partaken of my hospitality, a 
crowd of myrmidons of the law. It will be better not to loiter here. Yet 
there are certain precautions to be taken. " 

He locked the door on the inside, went up to the first-floor and took from 
the window the padlock, which was, in fact, broken. 

* "How did that doll twist this iron?" he muttered. "They do sell some 
trash nowadays. Honesty in commerce is a lost tradition." 

He opened the shutter and measured with his eye the height from the 
ground. 

"And jump from the first-floor! Why, she must be an acrobat, this 
young lady from the Faubourg Saint-Germain ! True, they teach them 
gymnastics now. In any case, there are some foot-marks that must be 
effaced." 

He examined every corner of the room, made certain that there was no 



1 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

thing left that would betray a woman's presence and consequently serve as 
evidence ; then he closed the shutters, windows, doors, passed his foot 
several times over the earth on to which Jeanne had jumped, and, key in 
pocket, he walked through the forest to catch the train at Vincennes. In 
spite of the cold, he travelled outside. In this way he made certain of not 
having any inquisitive neighbours. During the journey he examined his 
position. 

"Well, what then?" he said to himself. "Who carried out the 
abduction ? Whom did she see ? Not me. She can only inform against 
Victor. Therefore, I have nothing to fear. The more so that I am able, 
by documents, to prove that they knew one another and that he had a 
reason — a right, almost — to carry her off. Let them touch me. I'll raise 
scandal enough." 

He interrupted himself. The train had stopped at Saint-Mand6 and two 
policemen got up outside where Loyal-Francceur had seated himself. A 
shudder ran through him. 

' ' Had they come up for him ? Was he already betrayed ? " 

The policemen, enveloped in their cloaks, took out their pipes and began 
to smoke and talk over their private affairs. The inquiry-agent felt safe 
again. 

"No matter," said he, "I have still a first-rate string to my bow: 
Princess Dolores ; with the money I can get out of her, both for services 
rendered and for — certain documents, I have enough to make up for my 
losses. Then, by Jove ! for the sake of quiet, I'll quit my ungrateful 
country for a few days. Come, let's go and see the princess — " 

The train entered the station. M. Loyal gave up his ticket, took a cab, 
and drove to the Avenue Montaigne, to the door of a coquettish-looking 
house. The house was shut. He rang, however, and the carriage door 
was opened in answer. One of those majestic functionaries who nowadays 
spurn the name of doorkeeper appeared at the door of the building which 
served as a lodge. 

" What is it? " he asked, in a voice as supercilious as important. 

' ' Could I present my respects to Madame Wilson ? " asked M. Loyal - 
Francoeur, humbly. 

" Madame is away." 

"For long?" 

"I don't know." 

" And where has she gone, please ? " 

"I didn't ask her." 

"Thank you, sir," said the inquiry-agent, making a fresh bow to the 
majestic doorkeeper, " many thanks." 

" Not at all ; at your service. Shut the door, please." 

M. Loyal shut the dcor. Once in the street, he stopped and wiped 
away the sweat that was running down his face. 

"The artist wounded, the girl escaped, the princess away!" said he, 
quite overcome. "All is lost ; it's ruin, and the assizes after." 

He leant against one of the door-posts to prevent himself from falling. 
He was livid. His knees trembled. 

" Ruined ! " he muttered, " ruined ! all my advances lost ! Ah ! The 
wretches, the dogs ! No, I won't be beaten. I am stronger than they. 
Now the struggle begins, beware ! He drew himself up and shook his fist 
at the house. "And you, the first thief! Have a care for your head! 
Pretty as it is, M. Deibler would like to dress it in such a way as you 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



63 



would not like. And now, forward, march ! Let him who crosses my path 
beware ! ' 

XVI. 

INVESTIGATIONS. 

Meanwhile M. Manuel, the commissary of police for the Saint-X. district, 
Mas actively prosecuting his investigations in relation to the identity of the 
strange body. In spite of the good commissary's desire, he had found it 
impossible to keep the affair a secret. The various formalities to be observed, 
the post morten examination, the exposure at the Morgue,' the inquiries, 
had necessitated the intervention of the Treasury and magistrate. But, at 
M. Manuel's urgent request, the magistrate had authorised him to proceed 
with his own investigations without having recourse to his superior officer, 
and the Chief of Police had confined himself to placing two of his men at 
his disposal. They went to work with the utmost secrecy, avoiding 
especially reporters, who disclose and distort, and who cause the best plans 
to come to nothing. This rule was relaxed in the case of one journalist only v 
viz., Gratien Voiville, by reason of his early services. Even he had been 
sworn to secrecy, and, moreover, absorbed by his functions as second in the 
Clairac-Pringy duel, he had not shown up much at the commissary's office. 

In spite of his absence, progress had been made. The body had been 
exposed to the public. Photographs executed by the department had been 
circulated among the clubs and gambling saloons, and amongst gamblers of 
every description. Detectives provided with these photographs had scoured 
Paris, interrogating loose women, the frequenters of The Helder,* The 
American, Hill's, Brebant's Baratte's. Several times people had thought 
that they recognised him ; then, on reflection, they confessed that they had 
been mistaken. Or else he was identified as a man whom, half-an-hour 
later, the detectives discovered well and hearty. Things were beginning 
to look bad. 

However, progress, and rapid progress, was being made, and on the 
day M. Loyal-Francceur, having overcome his temporary despair, had sworn 
to continue the struggle, M. Manuel, note-book in hand, knocked at the 
door of the chief of police. The latter, on hearing M. Manuel's name, 
sprang up with a gleeful air and came to meet the commissarj'. 

" Come along, my dear colleague," said he, holding out both hands to M. 
Manuel. " I think we shall have something fresh to tell you. " 

" What ? you think so ? you don't know what has happened then ? " 

"Not in the least. You are conducting the inquiry ; it is to you that 
the reports are made. If I had not expected you, I should have sent my 
two men to you before now. But here you are, sit down and take your 
note-book ; I'll call them." 

He rang. An attendant appeared. 

" Send Fauvette to me," said the chief of police. 

Fauvette is not an alias nor a nickname, it is the real name of one of the 
best inspectors in the service. An old Zouave, having retained from the 
regiment boldness, coolness and discipline, Fauvette possesses in addition 
to these the greatest acuteness and devotion, of which he has given many 
proofs. It is by him, in company with two comrades, Antheaume, alias 
"Chocolat," that the most important arrests of late years have been 
accomplished. Although of short stature, and looking rather frail than 



bi DISPATCH AND SEURECV. 

robust, he fears nothing, and, armed simply with his staff and rope of good 
plaited hemp, he will attack the biggest ruffian, even though armed to the 
oeeth with revolvers and knives, like Marquelet and Teinen, the Isle-Adam 
murderers. A moment passed. Fauvette appeared. He bowed to the two 
magistrates and, standing erect, with his straw hat resting on his thigh, he 
awaited his chief's questions or orders. 

' ' It's you, Fauvette, who are engaged on the suburban railway case, the 
strange man ? " asked the chief of police. 
" Yes, sir ; I and Antheaume." 
" Have you discovered anything? " 
' ' I believe and hope so. " 

"Very well. As the commissary of the district is here, make youi 
reports." 

" I was just going to write it out, if M. le Commissaire will wait — " 
"No, you can do that later on. For the time being, just tell us how far 
you have got. " 

" Well," said the detective, obeying this order, " as soon as we got the 
photographs we went, as monsieur told us, and showed it about at the clubs 
and gamblers' haunts. But no one appeared to recognise it. The club- 
waiters, who have all their customers beneath their eye, assured us that they 
had never seen the man, not even as a guest at dinner. We were beginning 
to think there was some mistake, when the idea occurred to me to go and con- 
sult an old croupier who had more than once done me a service. He has been 
at Hombourg in his time and knows most of the Baden players. Hardly 
had he set eyes on the photograph than he cried. ' Sapristi ! yes, I've often 
seen the man. But there's something disguised about his face. The one 
I mean had a moustache. ' Without losing a moment I pulled out my 
pencil and asked him, ' Heavy, slight, turned up, pointed ? What was it 
like ? ' ' Black, pretty full, turned up.' In the twinkling of an eye I had 
adorned the photograph with a superb pair of curling moustachios. I 
showed it to my friend the croupier again. ' Ah,' said he, ' that's him ; 
that's the man who, along with two of his countrymen, broke the bank one 
night. There is no mistake about it, it's him.' Delighted at this discovery 
I hailed a passing cab and drove the croupier to the Morgue He looked 
at the ' corpsed ' — -Ah ! I beg pardon, M. le commissaire ; that's a bit of 
slang escaped me." 

" Never mind, go on, go on," said M. Manuel, whom this tale interested 
prodigiously. 

" Well, he looked at the body, and this time there was no need to make 
any addition to cause it to be recognised." 

" And did he tell you his name ? " asked the chief of police. 
" Yes, sir, he told me several. Wait till I find my notes ; I couldn't 
repeat them from memory." 
"Well, now— " 

" Pedrillo Moreno de la Concha, Comte de San-Fernando y Galiano," 
deciphered the detective with difficulty. 

"Stop a moment," said the chief of police, smiling. 

He took a portfolio which was lying on his desk, opened it and took a 
blue paper out. 

"Here is the telegram that I have received from the commissary at 
Monaco : ' Man whose photo you send known here ; played here two years 
back, in company with a very pretty woman ; called himself Comte Moreno 
de San-Fernando.' " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 65 

" That tallies ! " cried the detective. 

" Yes, my good Fauvette, that tallies, and that proves once more that 
you are no fool, and that you are trustworthy," said the chief of police, in 
a friendly tone, putting the telegram back in its place. 

"Well, that's a great point already ; we have determined the victim's 
identity," observed M. Manuel. " It only remains now to find the 
murderer." 

" Which is saying a good deal," said the chief of police, smiling. 

"Oh ! who knows, M. le Commissaire ? " cried Fauvette, whom his 
chief's praise had made a trifle conceited. "At any rate, I've already 
made a few investigations, and if you will allow me to tell you what my 
idea is, sir — " 

" Go ahead, Fauvette ; we're listening with all our ears." 

The chief of police got up, took a cigarette from off the chimney-piece, 
lit it, and sat down again at his desk, facing Fauvette. 

The detective continued : "It isn't such bad business to know the name 
of the bird already, but wemust know where he roosts. I've heard about 
the Comte de San-Fernando at Baden and Hombourg ; but I wasn't told 
what he did in Paris, and we want to know where he had his quarters in 
Paris." 

"Perfectly reasoned," said the chief of police, puffing his cigarette. 
" Well ? " 

" Well, I boldly set to work again at the clubs ; for since our man was a 
count, it was at the clubs that he must be sought. " 

"Always supposing he was not ruined," observed M. Manuel. 

" Oh ! sir, a man who had broken a bank ! " 

" All the more reason that he should be broken himself. Well, go on." 

" This time I didn't beat about the bush, I boldly asked for the Comte 
de San-Fernando. I did not have to go far — " 

"Ah ! ah ! " exclaimed the two listeners simultaneously. 

" I go to the Cinq Parties du Monde Club. 'Count Pedrillo de San- 
Fernando ! ' says the steward, ' he's one of our most regular players. He's 
the man for unlimited ! ' " 

" What do you mean by unlimited ? " asked M. Manuel. 

" My dear fellow," said the chief of police, "if you don't know, so much 
the worse for you ; it's too long to explain. Let Fauvette continue. Go 
on, my lad, go on, we're listening." 

"Well, sir, I knew then that M. de San-Fernando played at the club. I 
asked if he was there. ' No, he's not,' says the waiter. ' We haven't seen 
him for four days, since the celebrated game when the Comte de Pringy 
was so • cleaned out.' " 

" The Comte de Pringy ! " cried the chief of police in astonishment. 

" Yes, sir ; do you know him ? " 

" Possibly. But we shall see about that afterwards. Go on, Fauvette ; 
what next?" 

"Well, where was I? — ah ! 'The Comte de Pringy,' says the waiter, 
' there's another that has disappeared, ever since the same day.' " 

" Ah i he has disappeared ? " said the chief of police. 

"It appears so, sir. However, you will see I have made haste to ask 
where he lived, this count. Boulevard Hausmann, No. — close to the Rue 
Saint-Georges. I went there—" 

" And you saw him?" asked in his turn M. Manuel. 

" No M. le Commissaire. But the doorkeeper, a Lorrainer— to whom 
' c 



66 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

I spoke of Nancy, his native place, where I had been quartered — for I for- 
got to tell you that the Comte de Pringy is an old soldier, and that accord- 
ingly I presented myself provided with my military papers, like a poor 
devil' come to ask for employment — " 

"Very good idea, my lad," said the chief of police, lighting a second 
cigarette. " And the doorkeeper— ? " 

' ' The doorkeeper, when I talked to him about Nancy, was so pleased, 
that he began to chatter like a magpie. I offered him a glass of 
wine. At the end of a quarter of an hour he was firmly convinced we were 
cousins — after the Brittany fashion — he could refuse me nothing — " 

" Well, but what did he say ? " 

" That since a few days back his lodger, ordinarily as punctual as a clock, 
had grown visibly irregular in his habits. " 

"Goon." 

" On Wednesday it appears that the count, after having come home at 
five in the morning, set off again in a cab at six — " 

" Wednesday, why, that's the day the body was found." 

" Exactly so. But wait. He did not come home all day, and during 
the evening his servant had a telegram from him saying that he was going 
on a journey." 

" That's strange ! " cried M. Manuel. 

' ' The stranger, that I have something against this M. de Pringy that I 
will tell you of directly," added the chief of police. "But letFauvette go on." 

' ' On Wednesday night, M. de Pringy did not come home ; he was seen to 
come in the next day at eleven o'clock, tired, anxious, gloomy — " 

" They didn't know where he had been ? " 

" Patience, that's my comrade's business. For my part, I have done. 
Well, he came home on Thursday, changed his things, brushed and washed 
himself, and went off again. He came back at six, completely upset — " 

The commissary and the chief of police exchanged glances. 

" He had been to see the body at the Morgue," said the former. 

" And that had affected him, naturally." 

" Wait a minute," continued the detective. " He went to bed early that 
evening, and got up at five o clock." 

" With what object ? " 

" That the Lorrainer could not tell me. Only, this was the first time 
that such a thing had happened during the five years that the captain has 
lived in the house ; so it looks Taad. He was not seen again until the 
evening, when he was more and more upset." 

" Is that all ? " 

" That's all I have to say, sir. But now there's 'Chocolat's ' report." 

The chief of police rang. 

"Call Antheaume," said he to the boy. 

Antheaume, alias " Chocolat "— by reason of his affection for yellow or 
chestnut-coloured clothes — is no taller than Fauvette. But he is, like his 
comrade, bold, trusty, and cunning. When a " job " is entrusted to him, 
one may be sure that he will move heaven and earth to succeed in it. He 
was wearing a cap and blouse. He bowed, as Fauvette had done, and 
waited to be questioned. 

" You have been making inquiries about the Comte de Pringy ? " asked 
his chief. 

" Pardon me, sir, it was Fauvette who began. I simply tried to find out 
where he had been," replied Antheaume. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 67 

" And you did find out ? " 

"Certainly." 

"Then tell me what you discovered." 

"I discovered," saidAntheaume, shrugginghis shoulders, "that our man 
was not easy in his mind. On getting out of the cab which had taken him 
to the eastern station — for it was there that he went — he was so upset that 
he gave his driver ten francs for a three hours' fare ; the driver told an 
inspector who was on duty there, looking after station loafers — " 

"Well?" 

"Well, this inspector — our friend Gustave, whom you know well — kept 
his eye on the count. He saw him rushing about here and there, gesticula- 
ting and muttering to himself like a man who has something heavy lying 
on his conscience, then he saw him buy a dozen papers and throw them 
away, and at last go off by the three o'clock train. " 

"Whereto?" 

" He doesn't know. But it wasn't far, as they told Fauvette that he 
was back again the next day at eleven o'clock." 

"No matter, it's a very odd thing," remarked the commissary. 

" More so than you think, my dear colleague," said the chief of police, 
whose face had become grave again, " and 1 11 tell you why. — You can go," 
he added, turning to the detectives. 

" Are you satisfied with us ? " asked Fauvette. 

" Delighted, my lads ; as usual, you have done wonders. I shall re- 
member them when the time comes. " 

Fauvette looked at " Chocolat " and winked, and " Chocolat," opening 
his mouth to its fullest extent, gave vent to that silent laugh in which 
Fennimore Coopor makes his Mohicans indulge. 

On seeing this double pantomime, M. Manuel could not help laughing. 

" What's the matter ? " asked the chief. " Oh, those fellows' grimaces. 
If you lived with them, you would see plenty of that. But there, they're 
good fellows when you understand them, and the people who look askance 
at them owe them more than they think. Without my poor lads, Paris 
would soon be in a pitiable state. " 

" I quite believe you ; but what were you saying just now? " 

'• Wait a moment." 

Fauvette and " Chocolat" had made their bows and gone out. When 
the door was shut, 

"I've already had an information laid against this Comte de Pringy," 
said the chief of police. 

" You don't say so ! " cried the commissary, dumbfounded 

"You shall see." 

XVII. 

THE PLOT THICKENS. 

"Hardly forty-eight hours ago," continued the chief of police, "two 
gentlemen who had been sent by the Prefect of Police's private secretary 
tailed upon me. They came to inform me of an abduction and to ask my 
assistance to recover the young lady who had been carried off — " 

" What has this to do—? " 

" Wait a moment. One of these gentlemen was Colonel de Rieumes, a 
fine old fellow, father of the young girl ; the other's name is Paul Clairac ; 
he is a well-known artist, whose works we have seen at the Salon—" 



68 DISPATCH AND SBOUBCT. 

" Yes, I have admired them there," said the commissary. 

" Now, it appears that, during the morning, M. le Comte de Pringy, 
formerly a friend of Paul Clairac's and well known to Colonel de Rieumes, 
who, years ago, had him under his orders in Africa, made his appearance 
at the colonel's house in the Rue de Bellechasse, where the artist was 
breakfasting, asked to see the latter, told him a scandalous story of the 
young lady and entreated him to break off his engagement — " 

"Ah, really, and why?" 

" They do not know. But wait. On that same evening the young lady 
was carried off. " 

"By whom?" 

" By whom ? That's the question. Clairac and the colonel are wonder- 
ing who other than Pringy could have been interested in her disappear- 
ance. " 

"Quite so." 

"Now, look at what has passed to-day : the man whose body you have 
found is a Comte de San Fernando, a foreigner, a Spaniard, American, 
Brazilian, who knows? a rastaquouerp, as Fauvette says, a professional 
gambler. This man played cards on Tuesday evening until very late at the 
Cinq Parties du Monde Club. The Comte de Pringy played and lost to 
him. You follow me — ? " 

"Perfectly." 

"The next day the gambler's body is found— he has been murdered. 
And, in order that he shall not be recognised, in order that the murderer's 
traces shall not easily be found, the body is disguised, clothed in rags, the 
moustache shaved off — " 

" Clever fellow ! " said M. Manuel, in spite of himself. 

"Very clever, too clever by half; he arranges an admirably organised 
scene of a suicide. Anyone would have been taken in by it, and you, my 
dear colleague, your acuteness — " 

"Oh, one does one's best," said M. Manuel, blushing a little at this 
praise. 

" No, really. A man wants all his wits about him to escape falling into 
the trap. I conclude therefore that the murderer was anxious that his 
victim should not be recognised." 

"That is evident." 

" Now, on this same day the Comte de Pringy, having lost heavily the 
evening before, wanders about in an uneasy state of mind. He flies to the 
station, to escape, no doubt, at the first alarm, with the money which he 
has taken from his victim. He buys all the papers to see whether anything 
has been discovered, whether the body has been recognised, whether he is 
running any risk. Reading nothing dangerous, seeing, on the contrary, 
thanks to your ingenious artifice, that it is looked upon as a vulgar suicide, 
he becomes more confident. Nevertheless, he goes off for one night. 
VVhere does he go to ? Doubtless to confer with his accomplices. He 
then returns. His friend is going to be married. He breaks off his 
marriage, carries off the girl, whose fortune he no doubt covets tries to 
kill his rival — " ' 

There was a knock at the door. 

"Come in ! " said the chief of police, interrupting his series of hypotheses 

The porter brought in a letter which he handed to his superior 

" Will you excuse me ? " asked the latter. 

"Certainly.' 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 69 

He opened the envelope and glanced rapidly over the letter. 

" Ah ! this is rather too much ! " he cried in astonishment. 

" What is it V" 

'' This is the last straw. Read it, my dear fellow, read it. M. de 
Rieumes has sent it to me. " 

Monsieur Manuel took the letter and read : 

"My dear Colonel — The step which I am taking will, no doubt, appear to 
you a strange one. Yet, I entreat you, do not misunderstand me. When 
I came to your house yesterday, I came to see Paul Clairac for reasons 
which were imperious and urgent : I could not therefore stay to breakfast, 
as invited. Paul himself was forced to leave and follow me. It is in the 
midst of great troubles that I learnt, this morning, of your misfortune, 
your daughter's disappearance. Certain circumstances give me cause for 
hope that in two or three days' time I shall know what has become of Made- 
moiselle de Rieumes. But a large sum of money will be necessary. Feel- 
ing certain that you would not hesitate to make a sacrifice, I have pro- 
mised, in your name, two hundred thousand francs, payable at the moment 
when your daughter returns home. Was I wrong ? Reply immediately. 
Inquiries are waiting to be set on foot. I am, yours truly, Horace de 
Pringy. " 

" Well, what do you say to that ? " asked the chief of police. 

"It's as clear as day," replied the commissary. 

"A gambler, ruined, at the end of his resources, he assassinated his 
opponent in order to get back his winnings." 

"And he broke off his friend Clairac's marriage for some similar reason, 
which we shall have to find out." 

"And finally he carried the girl off." 

" And now wants to sell her to papa. Extortion ! " 

"Extortion! But," continued the chief of police, knitting his brows, 
" there's one thing that bothers me, I can't quite see the connection — " 

"What connection ?" 

" Between the two things, the abduction and the murder." 

" But, my dear colleague, probably there is none. These are two crimes 
perfectly distinct, although committed by the same person. That's all." 

"No, that can't be so," muttered the chief of police. "Two crimes so 
distinct must have some connecting link. That link I cannot even guess at. 
Did the murder supply the motive for the abduction ? Was it to pave the 
way for the abduction that the murder was committed ? That's what we 
must discover, otherwise everything else means nothing. " 

" What ! the rest means nothing ! You are joking. How about what 
your men have told you ? His anxiety ? his journeys ? one thing after 
another. The guilty man — for in my opinion he is guilty — was seen at the 
station, uneasy, anxious, gesticulating, and it was on the Ceinture, which 
he must have taken at the East-Ceinture station, that the body was 
found." 

" All very well as far as the murder is concerned, I say ; but the 
abduction ? " 

"But the visit to the colonel's house ? " 

"Well?" 

" Well, it was to obtain a footing in the place." 

"I know that." 

" By coming to see Clairac, by talking with him, he obtained a kind of 
an introduction into the house, a claim on their confidencei" 



70 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"Quite right." 

"And in the evening he probably went again, ostensibly on the part of 
his friend. " 

"Evidently." 

"The girl followed him unsuspiciously — " 

" Granted ; but that does not show the point of contact between the two 
crimes, and it is that point of contact that I want." 

" Ah, you go too far, my dear fellow, you must admit that you are over- 
doing it." 

" Everyone to his own idea. According to me, a good police officer finds 
more with his brain than his eyes. I have seen innocent men loaded with 
material proofs, and it has happened to me, on reflecting alone during the 
evening, to collect against a prisoner moral proofs so overwhelming that 
when on the following day I brought them against him he lost his head and 
confessed." 

"What you say is very curious. So, until you have discovered this 
connection — " 

"I shall reserve my opinion. This connection, look you, is the key of 
the double crime ; it is everything." 

" In the meanwhile, I think we shall not do ill to communicate with the 
magistrate." 

" True ; he must issue a warrant." 

"We will go together, eh ? " asked the good M. Manuel, rather uneasily, 
fearing that with his theories on moral investigation, theories which seemed 
to him the height of folly, the chief of police would never influence the 
magistrate and would probably delay the arrest of the culprit. 

" Parbleu! you know I don't mix myself up much in these affairs ; I let 
everyone do his own part ; I have enough to do. If the detectives have 
finished their report, we will take it. Is it ready, Pauvette ? " said he, 
opening the door and calling out across the office. From his post at the 
end of the corridor Eauvette heard and showed his intelligent face. 

"Here it is, sir." 

" Good, my lads. Give me the paper ; and now, to the Palais ! " 



XVIII. 

THE OFFICIAL INQUIRY. 

Delighted at the air of confidence with which M. Loyal-Francceur had 
promised to make the necessary investigations for finding Jeanne, con- 
vinced of the enormous power which this man had at his disposal, Pringy 
had not the least doubt of the colonel's consent to the proposal which he 
made to him in his letter. He was expecting, therefore, an answer at any 
moment, and was absolutely persuaded that this answer would be in the 
affirmative. The colonel was rich and adored his daughter. What was a 
sum of two hundred thousand francs to the pleasure of seeing her aga'n 1 
We have seen that M. de Rieumes had thought otherwise, and had simply 
sent the letter to the chief of police. The count waited, then, and after a 
hasty dinner at the Golden Lion, close at hand, he went home, so as to be 
there when the answer arrived. The evening passed, no answer came. 
The next day, the same silence. The count could not understand it. 
Could the colonel be hesitating ? or was he ill ? 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 71 

" Perhaps," said Pringy to himself, "this terrible blow has affected his 
mind. At his age, and with his sanguine temperament, there is danger of 
apoplexy. Or perhaps Jeanne has returned of her own accord, in which 
case my negotiations would be useless. At any rate this silence is 
strange." 

Night arrived without news. Pringy, more and more astonished, re- 
solved to go and see what was going on at the colonel's house. He rang 
for Denis to call a cab and began to dress. At that moment the servant 
knocked and entered the room. 

" What is it ? " asked the captain. 

" A gentleman wishes to speak to you, sir." 

"Ah ! at last ! " cried Pringy, " from the colonel, no doubt. Show him 
into the drawing-room ; I shall be there directly." 

He put on his coat and hurried into the drawing-room, where his visitor 
was waiting. The latter, clothed in black from head to foot, was standing 
up, with a large portfolio under his arm. He bowed when the count entered. 

" M. Horace de Pringy ? " he asked 

" The same, sir," said the count, who thought he was in the presence of 
the colonel's man of business. 

" Sir," continued the visitor, " I am charged with a painful mission." 

"I think I am acquainted with it," interrupted the count. 

"What?" 

"Yes, you have come from M. de Rieumes. " 

" Not exactly, although the De Rieumes affair is not quite unconnected 
with my visit. " 

" Speak then, what do you want ? " cried Pringy rather impatiently. 

" M. le comte, my name is Manuel, and I am a commissary of 
police. I am charged with placing you under arrest." 

" Me ! " 

" By virtue of a warrant of M. Dauffin, magistrate. Shall I read 
it to you ? " 

" But what am I accused of ? " 

" Of murder, of abduction, of attempted extortion ; crimes provided for by 
articles 296, 297, 354, 355, and'following, of the Penal Code, without preju- 
dice of the act of sequestration, provided for and punishable by articles 
341, 342—" 

"Enough! Spare me this jargon and tell me plainly, and in intelligible 
language, whom I am accused of having murdered." 

"I should be justified, sir, having regard to your attitude, to remain 
silent, and to summon, to arrest you, the two detectives whom I thought fit, 
for reasons of propriety, to leave below. But I am not a formalist. I will 
therefore satisfy your desire, by telling you— what you must know— that 
you are charged with having murdered one M. Pedrillo, Comte de San- 
Fernando, in consequence of a quarrel at cards ! " 

" Pedrillo de San-Fernando ! Why, you are joking." 

"You were playing cards with him during part of the night." 

" As with a dozen other members of the club." 

" But you left together." 

"Together.no. At the same time possibly. I came to my house, which 
is close to the club. He dro,ve to the Strasbourg station, to catch the 
morning train." 

" And two hours afterwards he was found dead on the rails," 

" The Eastern ? " 



72 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"No, the Ceinture. But you are making me say too much, and I am en- 
croaching on the examining magistrate's ground. I have only one thing to 
say to you. Will you follow me ? " 

"By all means, sir, but I reserve my defence." 

" Of course." 

" And the charge of the abduction ; what is that? " 

" The magistrate will tell you." 

" Good ! How are you going to take me?" 

"I have a cab at the door. There are two detectives in it. For my part, 
I must make a search here. Do you wish me to do it in your presence ? " 

"Not the least in the world," said Pringy, who had recovered his self- 
possession. "Only, don't break anything. I have some knick-knacks 
here that I value very much as souvenirs." 

" Set your mind at ease." 

"Then, aurevoir, M. le coinmissaire," said Pringy, moving away. But 
M. Manuel stepped in front of him and went first down the stairs, step 
by step, until he was opposite the cab in which Fauvette and " Chocolat " 
were philosophically smoking cigarettes. On seeing the commissary, the 
two detectives opened the door and got out of the cab. 

" Here is M. de Pringy," said M. Manuel, " I entrust him to you." 

Pringy bowed to the detectives and got into the cab. 

"Shall we put the bracelets on?" asked Antheaume, in a whisper, of his 
comrade. 

" It's not necessary, he's an old officer. Between ourselves, eh, captain?" 
he added, addressing the count, " you give your word not to escape ? " 

" My word, my good fellows. I am anxious to prove that a deplorable 
mistake is being made. " 

" ' All right ! ' as the American pickpockets say when we collar them. 
Drive on, coachman, to the Prefecture, Quai de l'Horloge." 

The cab drove off. 



The Quai de l'Horloge is the entrance to the Depot. There are two 
doors, one reserved for prostitutes, who go "to the dispensary to have their 
licences registered ; the other, a common one, serving equally for honest 
folks who come to see the commissary for the Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois 
district on business of their own, for the detectives whose quarters are on 
the right of the entrance, for people who wish to enter the building to 
obtain shooting licences, passports, lost objects, or for all those having law 
business of any description, and finally for the prison vans which bring to 
the D6p6t, from Saint-Lazare, Mazas, the Sant^ and all the different police 
stations in Paris the prisoners who are to be temporarily lodged there. A 
strange medley is this D6p6t. Misery and misfortune there elbow vice 
and crime. It harbours the abandoned infant and the murderer ; the 
vagabond is there side by side with the millionaire arrested for illegal 
speculations ; the pick -pocket meets there the inoffensive loafer who has 
been "run in" out of the streets by the patrol; the sick and mad are 
taken there no less than thieves and prostitutes. Runaway cashiers, 
arrested at the moment of taking their ticket, have encountered there at 
night the cabman who had driven them, and who had himself been arrested 
for disorderly conduct. At the Depot there exist, as everywhere else, 
distinctions. In the " blouse room " is all the scum of vagabondage and 
crime, a vile promiscuity of all that is most filthy in humanity with the 



DISPATCH AND SBCREOT. 73 

most disgusting vermin; the "black coat room "is cleaner. There are 
placed those who are not so ragged, and a man may pass a few hours there 
without being forced to have recourse to insect powder or sulphur baths. 
Lastly the cells, a luxury relatively enviable, are reserved for important 
individuals or criminals of mark. It was in a cell that the Comte de 
Pringy was placed. 

What a night, what a horrible night he passed there, lying on a pallet 
bed, between four walls, no light, deprived of his neckcloth, his braces, 
and his handkerchief, for fear of suicide ; without even a pen-knife, lest 
he should open a vein ; without a penny, for fear he should choke or 
poison himself by swallowing it. At daybreak the sullen roar in the 
Depot awoke him. Singing, shouting and laughing were going on in the 
common rooms, and from time to time a loud cry, a name repeated in turn 
by all the prisoners and all the echoes, traversed the building. A prisoner 
who was being called, either to be set at liberty, or taken before the 
magistrate, or jammed into "Black Maria" and transferred to another 
prison. Towards mid-day the cry was heard, "Pringy ! Pringy! Pringy!" 
and the warder came and opened the door of the cell. An armed guard 
was waiting outside, holding handcuffs in his hand. When the warder 
proceeded to adjust this instrument of torture the count gave an involun- 
tary start. 

" Only a formality, sir," said the guard. 

Determined to bear everything to the end, Pringy held out his arms. 
But the guard looked at him, saw the red ribbon at his button-hole, 
examined his frank face, and with an effort: "No, sir," said he, "only, 
you will not attempt to escape, will you ? " 

" Upon my word, as an old African soldier, comrade." 

" All right, come with me." 

They left the Dep6t. They traversed the turnings which the intermin- 
able buildings of the wing fronting the Seine form in the interior of the 
Palais, turned to the left under a doorway and mounted the magistrate's 
staircase. 



XIX 

THE EXAMINATION. 

In our times, when people have a rage for making of everything a type, one 
which is as strange as false is made of an examining magistrate. He is repre- 
sented as a gentleman who is always stiff, formal and solemn — unbending 
as the law — and never indulging in a smile. Fatal mistake : there are 
magistrates who are affable, jolly, good-natured, men of the world, pleasure- 
seeking ; not above taking their place at a supper, and able even at an 
emergency to lead a cotillon. All this does not detract from their judicial 
qualities — on the contrary. Like the confessor, in order well to perform 
his duties, the magistrate should have a certain acquaintance with all the 
vices of society. But there are those who, imbued with old-fashioned 
ideas, never put off either their white neckcloths or solemn airs. Legal 
mummies, they are always about to perform a sacrifice, and believe them- 
selves to be above the weaknesses of our poor humanity. Beware of these 
latter. With them the least peccadillo is a crime, and, like Brid'oison, 
form, form is their principal rule of conduct, a sacred rule, which they 



74 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

never fail to act up to. M. Dauffin, the magistrate who had in hand the 
mysterious affair of the strange body, was precisely one of these men. _ Tall, 
thin, solemn, wearing his long grey hair down over his shoulders, his face 
adorned with a pair of large snow-white whiskers, wearing always a black 
coat and white neckcloth, M. Dauffin was fully convinced of his perfect 
infallibility, and when he had given his opinion he would admit no observa- 
tion or proof to the contrary. In his room everything, like his own 
person, was methodical. Not one book in the shelves projected beyond its 
fellows. The cards of reference were arranged as in a shop. And, since 
"birds of a feather flock together," M. Dauffin had managed to procure a 
clerk as tall and pedagogic as himself, a clerk who shut his eyes when he 
spoke, and who, in the intervals between the questions, placed his goose- 
quill behind his ear — the steel pen was an anti-magisterial innovation which 
M. Dauffin, and, as a consequence, his clerk, held in the greatest detestation. 
One last characteristic trait : M. Dauffin likes plain-spoken criminals— such 
as Jean Hiroux — who confess cynically. He abhors men who deny, and 
who resort to subterfuges. He is as good-natured and tolerant towards 
the first as he is severe with the latter. It was before this singular magis- 
trate that Pringy had the misfortune to make his appearance. 

When the count, under the escort of the guard, entered M. Dauffin's 
room, he saw the magistrate seated at his desk, bending over an enormous 
volume, whilst opposite him, at a table adjoining his chief's desk, the clerk 
was making his goose-quill fly over the unglazed official paper. At the 
sound of the door, which the guard closed, the magistrate raised his head 
and replied with a slight nod to the bow which M. de Pringy made him. 
He gazed at him for a moment, as if he had hoped to read on his face what 
was passing in his mind. Then he said laconically, almost roughly : 

"Sit down." 

The count took a step towards a velvet-covered chair which stood facing 
the magistrate. But the clerk, stretching out his arm, pointed to a leathern 
chair on the other side of the room, and, not less sparing of words than his 
master, pronounced this single word : 

"There." 

Pringy sat down on his chair. M. Dauffin reflected for a moment, looked 
at his prisoner again, then said to the soldier who stood in the background, 
his shako under his arm, straight as a dart, behind his prisoner : 

" Guard, go into the corridor." 

The soldier left the room. There was a moment's silence. Much 
agitated, Pringy could not help exclaiming : 

" Sir, if you would allow me — " 

" Silence ! " cried the clerk, throwing a furious glance on the prisoner. 

"Have you scheduled all the evidence?" asked the magistrate of his 
clerk, exactly as if M. de Pringy had not been present. 

" They are here, sir." 

" And the report of the perquisition ? " 

" It is here, sir." 

" Give them all to me." 

The clerk handed a bundle of papers to the magistrate. M. Dauffin 
glanced at them, placed them on his desk, and, turning to the count : 

" What is your name ? " he asked. At last the examination had be^un. 

" Louis-Gaston-Horace de Pringy," replied the count. 

" You bear the title of count ? " 

" I have a right to it, and can furnish proofs — " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 75 

" Well, your age ? " 

"Forty-five." 

"Profession?" 

" Retired officer. Independent at present." 

"Where do you live?" 

" Boulevard Haussmann." 

"You know with what crimes you are charged ? " 

"They said something about the murder of a certain Comte de San- 
Fernando. " 

" Do you admit having committed this murder ? " 

The count shrugged his shoulders. "It is ridiculous," he said, "what 
object should I have in killing this fellow, with whom I have never had the 
least connection, whom I hardly knew ? " 

" Prisoner, conduct yourself more respectfully towards the representa- 
tive of the law. So you deny it. Clerk, write that the prisoner denies. 
Now, do you deny having had any connection with the victim ? " 

" That is almost the case ; I knew him very little." 

"You stand convicted already of a flagrant falsehood. A few hours 
before the crime you were playing cards together." 

. " Why, sir, at a club one plays cards often with men only known to one 
by name, especially when, as Monsieur de San-Fernando did, they take the 
bank at baccarat." 

" Very well. Do you deny also that you lost to him ? " 

' ' No, as a matter of fact, I did lose ; but whom does that concern ? ' 

"You are not here to ask questions, but to answer. Clerk, write that 
the prisoner admits having played cards, and lost." 

The examination continued after this fashion, Monsieur Dauffin seizing 
the least hesitation on the count's part, and forging terrible weapons from 
it. But Pringy stood his ground. To every question he had a reply, and, 
determined to keep his self-possession, he did not trouble himself at the 
most delicate questions, nor the most irritating remarks. 

" The medical examination has proved that the victim was killed by a 
revolver bullet of No. 7, calibre," said the magistrate. " Now, in the search 
made at your house, two revolvers of the same calibre were found, and 
both the barrels were foul." 

"I have a fine collection of weapons, and -\ short time back I tested all 
my revolvers at the shooting-gallery. As the victim only received one 
bullet, I could not, in killing him, have fouled two revolvers." 

" No, you might have fired several times, and only hit him once." 

" Like platoon firing, I suppose ; for since you noticed that the barrel 
was foul, you may have remarked also that the twelve chambers are 
equally so ; I must therefore have fired twelve shots." 

"Besides this, the corpse, which it had been attempted to make unre- 
cognisable, had had the moustache shaved off. Now, two razors and a 
lathering-brush, still wet, were found at your house. " 

" I shave myself every morning. My orderly will tell you as much." 

" A witness in your service." 

" Granted. But confess, at least, that if my lathering-brush had only 
been used to shave Monsieur de San-Fernando, it would have had time to 
dry in four days." 

" Do not jest ; facetiousness is out of place here. However, we will 
take leave of the principal charge for to-day, and pass on to the .second." 

" What ? there is a second one ? " 



76 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"I would remark that your manner of replying and your whole be- 
haviour are not such as to gain you any sympathy. " 

"Well, with what am I charged still? Tell me that, at least, cried 
Pringy, whose patience was exhausted. 

Monsieur Dauffin looked at his clerk, who raised his eyes to heaven, as 
if to take it to witness of the scandal which this incredible audacity 
caused. The clerk, a little uneasy even at the violence with which the 
prisoner had spoken to his worship, stretched out his had towards the bell, 
in order to summon the guard. Monsieur Dauffin stopped him with a 
gesture, then, turning towards Pringy : 

" Independently of the crime of murder, provided for and punishable by 
articles 296, and following, of the Penal Code," he said in an emphatic tone, 
"you are, in addition, charged with abduction and unlawful detention; 
crimes provided for and punishable, by articles 341, 354, and following, of 
the same code." 

" Abduction, and unlawful detention ? " 

" Of Mademoiselle Jeanne de Rieumes." 

" And who accuses me ? " 

" The father, who has lodged an information. Therefore, be good 
enough to answer the questions which I am about to put to you on this 
subject. We shall afterwards take the subsidiary charge — attempted 
extortion." 

" What ! extortion, now ! " 

' ' Established by the letter which you wrote to the father, proposing to 
him to restore his daughter, in consideration of a sum of two hundred thou- 
sand francs. Clerk, show the letter to the accused ; it is necessary that he 
should say whether he recognises it." 

"Perfectly, sir ; most certainly I wrote that letter." 

" Then you plead guilty by implication ? " 

"I plead guilty to nothing. I know that Colonel de Rieumes, whom 1 
love and respect, has had a heavy blow ; that his daughter, for seme 
reason which I am not called upon to explain, has fled — " 

"Has been carried off, you mean." 

"I speak according to my own opinion, and I say, hat fed. I have 
reasons for thinking so, from certain circumstances." 

" What circumstances ? Make them known to justice." 

"No, sir." 

" You refuse to reply ? " 

" Certainly. There are certain things that a gallant man cannot say." 

"There is no gallant man here, sir; there is a prisoner who is being 
interrogated by a magistrate. Will you answer, yes or no ? " 

" No, a thousand times, no ; to tell the truth, these questions bore me, 
and I shall answer no more of any description. " 



XX. 

CONFRONTED. 

"We shall see about that," said M. Dauffin, assuming a dignified air. 
" And, first of all, do you admit the abduction ? " 

The count, fixing his eyes on the magistrate, was silent. 

" Insolent fellow ! " cried the solemn M, Dauffin, really indignant. "So 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 77 

the case stands thus. Very well; we shall see whether you will be equally 
arrogant in the presence of your victim's body." 

He rang. The guard appeared. 

" Take this man back to the Dep6t and tell them to hold him at my dis- 
posal," he ordered. "And take care that he does not escape. You will 
answer to me for it." 

"We will go to the Morgue," said the magistrate to his clerk. 

• • • • 

If, in many cases, in spite of the preservation of its ancient usages and 
customs, the law has lost a great part of its prestige, there are others in 
which it recovers it in all its majesty. This is the case in a confrontation 
at the Morgue. Night had fallen ; the gloomy and sinister building, black 
outside, lighted inside by jets of gas and torches, was arranged for the 
occasion. In the large hall hung with green, which is situated next to the 
office, the corpse was laid out on a platform. Right and left two lamps 
provided with reflectors performed the functions of foot-lights at a theatre 
and threw a flood of light on the cadaverous and already decomposing 
body. Opposite, a curtain suspended from a rod concealed from the 
spectators the corpse and the kind of stage upon which it was placed. To 
the right and left of this the Public Prosecutor, the magistrate and his 
clerk, M. Manuel, the commissary, and his secretary, the chief of police, 
the doctor who had performed the post mortem examination, and lastly, the 
clerk of the Morgue, M. Clovis Pierre, and his assistant, had taken their 
places. Standing by the green curtain and holding the cord by which it 
moved was Arthur, the youth whom we saw at the commencement of the 
inquiry : Arthur, no longer wearing a blouse, but in full dress ; frock-coat, 
bearing the arms of the town, and red waistcoat with silver buttons. The 
office-door opened. The Comte de Pringy appeared, escorted by the two 
detectives, Antheaume and Fauvette. 

" Do you still persist in denying your crime ? " asked the magistrate, in 
a solemn voice. 

" I protest most strongly against the charge," replied the count firmly. 

" Very well ; look ! " 

At a given signal the curtain flew back and the corpse appeared. 
Terrible and fantastic apparition. Beneath the jets of moving light cast 
by the two reflectors the flabby and discoloured flesh seemed to become 
re-animated and to move. One would have imagined that the dead man 
was making efforts to rise, to walk, to speak. Pale, but firm, Pringy 
looked at it for a moment. Then, averting his eyes, he turned them on 
the magistrate, as if to provoke some fresh question. 

" Do you recognise your victim ? " said the implacable magistrate. 

" I recognise perfectly M. Pedrillo de San-Fernando," said Pringy, in a 
firm voice ; "but I swear, upon his body, I am innocent of his death." 

" Very well, we will continue the inquiry to-morrow," said M. Dauffin, 
giving a sign. 

The prisoner was taken away. The lamps were extinguished. As they 
left, the chief of police took M. Manuel apart. 

" My dear colleague," said he in a whisper, " we have made fools of our- 
selves. I'll bet my ears that man is innocent ! : ' 



78 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

XXI. 

LOST ! 

As M. Loyal had, to his grief, found out, Jeanne had escaped from the 
villa at Nogent. A trifle reassured by the conversation that she had had 
with Victor, and especially by the assurance that she ran no danger, either 
for her virtue or for her life, she had sat down in a chair and taken a little 
rest, of which she stood much in need after the violent shock which she 
had undergone. Towards one o'clock in the morning she awoke. The 
lamp had gone out and the room was plunged in complete darkness. 
Jeanne looked out through the interstices of the shutters. All was quiet' 
in the dark night, no sound, no light. She was frightened at this silence ; 
she wondered whether she had been quite abandoned. By a convulsive 
movement she shook the shutters. The padlocks which secured them 
rattled. She paused, frightened ; would not this noise attract the atten- 
tion of her persecutors ? Nothing moved in the house. Jeanne made 
another effort and put forth all her strength upon the shutters. She 
fancied she heard something give way inside the padlock. She redoubled 
her efforts ; the sound was more distinct. Still the same silence in the 
house. A more violent push caused the padlock to yield altogether. One 
of the shutters opened and swayed back against the wall. Her keepers 
must have heard her this time. With palpitating heart she listened. 
Nothing. Full of hope and courage, she took the cloth from the table, a 
woollen cloth. She doubled it, in order to give it more strength, fastened 
it to the bar of the window, then, confiding herself to God, she climbed on 
to the window-sill, let herself slip down to the end of the cord, and let go. 
Her feet were hardly fifty inches from the ground. The soil was soft. 
She was not hurt. Without taking time to look about her, she ran to the 
garden door. It was locked ; but the ivy and virgin vine climbing along 
the planks of the fence formed a natural ladder. Overcome by joy at the 
idea of escaping from her persecutors' hands, Jeanne hesitated at no 
obstacle. She clambered up, clung to the top of the fence and let herself 
down on the other side in a forest path. She was free ! Free, but not yet 
safe. She knew not where she was. No matter, she must fly, fly before 
all, leave this dangerous and accursed place with all speed. They might 
discover her escape, pursue her, recapture her. She must fly. She took 
at hazard the path which ran past the villa and began to walk rapidly 
along, without troubling herself to think whither this path would lead her. 
She soon solved the mystery. The path opened out into a broad road, at 
the end of which lights twinkled. She walked towards them. The lights 
were a long way off, but Jeanne, upheld by hope, walked quickly along. 
Soon she distinctly saw houses and a church. Where was she ? She knew 
not, but by knocking at a door — ; she hesitated a moment. At last she saw 
a light shining through the imperfectly closed shutters of one of the 
windows. She knocked, no one answered at first. Jeanne bruised her 
fist against the door ; the barking of a dog proved to her that she had been 
heard. The shutters opened. A hairy face, surmounted by a cotton cap, 
appeared cautiously. 

" Who is there ? " asked a rough and alarmed voice. 

" I have lost my way ; could you shelter me for a few hours ? " asked 
the young girl. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 79 

"This is not an inn. Go away," replied the voice, a trifle less frightened. 

" I entreat you — " 

"Go away, I tell you. Did ever anyone see ! This is not the time to be 
wandering about." 

" For mercy's sake. Tell me, at least, where I am." 

"If you don't go away directly, I'll let my dog out," thundered the voice, 
" and you'll feel his teeth, hussy ! " 

Saying this, the man violently closed the window. The poor child, terri- 
fied, and not daring to renew elsewhere an attempt so harshly greeted, 
went her way, groaning. She walked, walked, unceasingly. She arrived 
presently at a gate which she recognised as one of the new barriers of Paris. 
A customs' clerk, well wrapped up, was smoking his pipe at the door. 

" Excuse me, sir, where am I ? " asked Jeanne, who had regained a little 
confidence at the sight of the official's uniform. 

" At the Montreuil gate, my pretty girl." 

" Am I far from the Faubourg Saint-Germain ? " 

The man looked at her to see whether she was speaking seriously. The 
question appeared to him so strange, that he thought the young girl was 
joking. Jeanne was wearing an elegant silk dress. But during her escape 
from the window, her painful climb over the fence, and her fall on the 
damp ground, this dress had been rumpled, torn, and soiled with mud ; 
besides this, her tramp through the forest had stained her shapely boots ; 
finally, she stood there bare-headed, in the middle of the road, at four 
o'clock in the morning. All this did not help to gain her much sympathy, 
and the good exciseman felt satisfied that he had to deal with some street- 
walker. 

"If you want to get there before daybreak," said he, in a bantering 
voice, " you'd better hurry up ; it's a good tramp yet." 

The poor child felt fit to sink ; however, she asked which road she had 
to take. 

"Straight on," said the man. " You rmist go as far as the Boulevard 
Voltaire and go along that. You will come out in the Faubourg Saint- 
Antoine. Follow it as far as the Place de la Bastille. Then by the Rue 
de Rivoli, the Carrousel, and either the Pont des Saint- Peres or the Pont 
Royal, as you choose." 

"Heaven help me !" cried Jeanne, aghast; "I shall never have the 
strength to go all that way." 

" If you like to come into the guard-house," said the man, " some of my 
comrades won't object to keeping you company." 

Without quite understanding the drift of this remark, Jeanne had a sus- 
picion of some fresh peril. Moreover, the word "guard-house" had an 
unpleasant sound in her ears. She fancied herself surrounded by rough 
men, foul-mouthed soldiers. Terror seized her anew. She passed the 
officer and ran along at the top of her speed. The man looked at her run- 
ning, and an idea struck him. 

" It's some jade that's played me a trick. All that gammon was just to 
put me off the scent. She's got at least ten litres of alcohol stowed away 
under her petticoats." 

He thought of pursuing and searching her. But she was already far off. 
She was following, still running, the old Grande Rue de Montreuil, now 
the Rue d'Avron, of which the rough stones made her boots turn over and 
bruised her feet, but she ran on, on, for in the silence of the night she heard 
the sound of her own steps multiplied by the echoes, and fancied she was 



80 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

being pursued. She came to a broad street planted with trees. She 
stopped for a second. The echo ceased at the same time. The poor child, 
confused by the hallucinations which floated in her throbbing brain, no 
longer recollected the directions which had been given her. 

" He said a boulevard, the Boulevard Voltaire," she said painfully. 
"This must be it, I must follow it, follow it to the end." 

She was in the Boulevard de Charonne. She set off walking again. The 
long line of avenues planted with trees stretched away uninterruptedly. 
After the Boulevard de Charonne comes the Boulevard de Menilmontant ; 
then that of Belleville, Villette, then there is a bend. Jeanne, worn with 
fatigue, her feet covered with blood, frozen with the cold and bathed in 
perspiration, walked on, on. She reeled at every step, her failing legs 
gave way under her ; but, gathering all her strength, she continued her 
mad career. At the Villette-circus she sat down for a moment on a bench 
in front of the tramways' office. But two drunken men who came up at 
that moment, quarrelling between themselves, forced her to move on again 
at once. She traversed the whole length of the Boulevard de la Chapelle 
and entered that of Rochechouart. There, opposite the Elysee-Mont- 
martre, she felt her head swim, thousands of lights sparkled in her eyes, 
she uttered a loud shriek, and sank to the ground. She remained there 
a few moments. Then the coolness of the night air brought her to her 
senses again. She made an effort to rise. Impossible. Her limbs were 
cramped. Each attempt gave her horrible pain. And no one, not a soul, 
to help her. 

"My God ! " she murmured, in an earnest prayer which came from her 
innermost heart, "my God ! have pity on me." 

As if God had answered her prayer on the spot, a clear youthful voice 
rang out suddenly in the distance. 

XXII. 

RESCUE. 

The voice sang : 

" In the chilly night and drear, 
Rag-picker of Paris, pray, 
Lamp in hand, why dost thou peer 
Through yon heaps of rubbish ? Say I 
Bags ! Thy harvest's yield is rags, 
Hook them out and cram thy poke. 
Ah ! thy business never flags, 
All things go to swell thy stock, 
All things in the end ore rags."- 

" Help ! " cried Jeanne, raising herself upon her elbow, so that her appeal 
might be better heard. She saw the gathering light of the lantern which 
the singer carried. It was coming along the Rue des Martyrs. The voice 
continued : 

" Once in a common cause 
All Europe set on France. 
What was it gave them pause 
And checked the foe's advance ! 
Bags and tatters ; it was but a rcg ! 
That rag which a Frenchman will ever adore. 
Tatters and rags, but a noble rag 
If it be tricolour. 
Hurrah, boys, for that glorious rag ! " 



DISPATCH AND SEORECV. 81 

" Help ! help ! " cried Jeanne. 

She tried to wave her arm in the air in order to attract attention. But 
the double eflort that she had just made to cry out and raise herself as high 
as possible had exhausted her strength. She sank to the ground, uttering a 
groan. The rag-picker— for this unexpected rescuer was none other than 
a rag-picker on his rounds — had nevertheless heard her. He looked about 
him for a moment, trying to discover from whence the cries which had 
reached his ear proceeded, turning the reflector of his lantern, and throw- 
ing a beam of light in every direction. In the midst of the dullness which 
had taken possession of her brain Jeanne divined rather than saw these 
proceedings. But she was past helping herself. Dimness overspread her 
eyes. Her head felt as if crushed in a vice, she lost consciousness. At 
this moment the rag-picker perceived her. He ran up and saw a woman 
in the icy mud. 

" Well, my little woman," said he, giving her a slight push with the end 
of his hook, ' ' what's the matter ? Having a doss in the gutter ? " 

Then, stooping down, and noticing the pallor which overspread the young 
girl's face : " She can't hear me," he continued. " Sapristi ! is she dead ? 
Now, Martin, my lad, down with your cashmere and bear a hand. " 

He threw down his basket, which was almost full, went down on his 
knees and placed his hand on Jeanne's heart. 

"No, her heart's beating still. Sapristi! a fine outside ! she's one of 
the upper ten, or else a gay lady. Oh, well, no matter, whoever she is, I 
won't let her die like this ! " 

Taking the girl's inert body in his arms, he placed her on the edge of 
the pavement, leant her back against his basket, and slapped her hands. 
She made no movement. 

" If I go on like this, I shall break her poor little hands in my great 
paws," muttered the kind fellow, noting the fruitlessness of his efforts. 
" If all the houses weren't shut up, I'd give her a little brandy ; that would 
bring her to, p'raps. It's just when you want help most that you can't find 
a soul. Devil take it ! " 

And, in truth, as far as the eye could reach, the street was deserted. 

" Not a cat ! " he continued. "And on a cold night like this, she might 
die on my hands." 

In the utmost despair he beat his head with his hands. He was a right 
good fellow, was Martin, alias " The Bear," rag-picker by trade and pro- 
fession, born in, and obstinately inhabiting, the Cite Maupy, Montmartre. 
He had only left his dear Cit6 for five years, his five years of military 
service. The tax of blood once paid, Martin had without regret exchanged 
his knapsack and rifle for the " cashmere " (the basket) and the 7 (the 
hook, on account of its shape), and had resumed his hovel and occupation. 
He was a man of eight-and-twenty, not tall, but well-knit, broad- 
shouldered, and very strong. He would not have been bad-looking if the 
small-pox had not deeply scored a face bronzed by the open air and swarthy 
from work. His only good remaining feature was his keen eyes, in which 
were depicted intelligence and good-nature, and which softened down a 
little the unpleasant impression which his face produced at first glance. 
Living alone, without wife or mistress, Martin had received from one of 
his comrades the nickname of "the bear," which went so well with his 
own name that he had kept it. They say that light proceeds from a shock. 
The two blows that Martin had given himself on the head caused an idea 
to enter it. 



82 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" A doctor, of course ! " he said, " there must be a doctor about here ; 
he's not like the pubs ; he'll open." 

And, in fact, he found a doctor's close by ; he dragged at the night-bell, 
without, at the same time, losing sight of his protegee. After a short time 
had elapsed an assistant opened the door. At the sight of the rag-picker, 
whose appearance was anything but reassuring, he asked : " Who are 



you 



?» 



" Prosper Martin, otherwise ' the bear,' rag-picker, and I've come to ask 
you to help me to save a poor girl who is dying, here, close by. There's 
not a minute to lose." 

The ass stant plucked up courage. He opened the door wide. "Where 
is she ? " he asked. 

" There, against my basket." 

" What is the matter with her? " 

" How should I know ? She's fainted. Wait a minute, I'll go and fetch 
her. You'll know better than me, it's your trade." 

"Shall I go with you?" 

"No need for that. She's no heavier than a feather," said the rag- 
picker, lifting Jeanne in his strong arms and carrying her into the surgery. 

" Why, she is dead ! " cried the assistant, terrified. 

" No, but she's not far off it. If you don't hurry up and find something 
in your crib to bring her round quick, it's a case for the undertaker." 

Horrified, the assistant awoke his master. The latter came down half- 
dressed. " Congestion of the brain," he said, after having examined the 
patient. "Wait a minute, a mustard poultice on each leg, first of all. 
Then friction. Ah ! the blood is beginning to circulate again. She is 
saved for the moment. But, my good man, it's only postponed. So I 
should advise you to — " 

"What?" 

"To run at once to the station at the Place Dancourt, close to the Theatre 
Montmartre, and inform the police." 

"What for?" 

" To have her taken to the Lariboisiere Hospital, of course ! " 

"To the hospital!" exclaimed "the bear," indignantly. "To the 
hospital ! Go along ! Haven't I got a place of my own ? And don't you 
think she'll be as well cared for there as at your hospital? Yes, yes. 
Now, Martin, my boy, hand your pickings over to a comrade. Friendship 
is your task to-day." And, running to his basket, he emptied it out on 
the pavement, then, placing it on his shoulders, he took Jeanne up in his 
arms. 

' ' Cabby, the Cit6 Maupy, " he said to himself, smiling ; ' ' double fare if 
you get there in half an hour. " 

And he went off at the double, in spite of his burden. 

XXIIL 

THE CITE MAUPY. 

Recent events have caused the calculation to be made that very evening 
at least fifty thousand persons set out, hook in one hand, lantern in the ether, 
basket on back and hope in the heart, to go and rummage among the dust- 
heaps in search of the wherewithal to support their families. It is the 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



83 



fashion to despise, to scoff at, to make a joke of the rag-picker. A great 
mistake, for amongst all the army of toilers this one possesses the great 
merit of being content with his lot and of never asking for more than 
tranquillity and the maintenance of things as they exist at present. Having 
regard to their number, the rag-pickers cause the law but little trouble. 
No crimes, no thefts, and if one of them is from time to time taken to the 
police-station, it is only on account of some quarrel between friends, or of 
having allowed himself to be overcome by some of the poisonous staff sold 
to him at the low public houses. It is true, this is not pleasant. Soap 
is an unknown luxury to him. The fresh air and the water of the Seine are 
his only cleansers. He is dirty, true again. But go and visit in their 
work-shops, down mines, or on locomotives, those dandy engineers who 
have lately posed as lovers at the Vaudeville and Gymnase theatres, you 
will find them in their shirt sleeves, black, smoky, greasy, and by no means 
poetic. Cleanse the rag-picker — such a thing happens occasionally — you 
will find a man worth more than our finest dandies or most fashionable 
"mashers." 

In Paris, rag-picking, which gives employment to more than sixty thou- 
sand souls, has its town in the great city ; its " Cit£s," as they are called, 
who have in their aspect peculiarities wholly their own. The improvements 
in the capital, in replacing huts by palaces, have not destroyed the plebeian 
haunts ; they have only transplanted them. " Little Poland " — the classic 
and legendary abode of the rag-pickers, of which novel and play have 
preserved types in The General, Mother Marr6, Mother Moscou — has made 
way for broad and fashionable streets. Little Poland is not dead, or at 
least, like Mother Gigogne, it has given birth to a numerous progeny ; the 
Cite" Jeanne d'Arc, the Citd Dore, in the thirteenth district ; the lie des 
Siuges, in the fifteenth ; the Passage Touzelin, De l'Ecole, Trebert, Saint- 
Charles, the Cite' Foucault, the Cite du Soleil, near the fortifications ; the 
0it6 de la Moscowa, the Rue Angelique Compoint, the Cite" Maupy, at 
Montmartre ; the Butte Elisa-Borey, Belleville ; the Passage du Nord, the 
Passage du Sud, the Cite Bender, at La Villette ; and a hundred others in 
the odd nooks of Paris, not to mention Aubervilliers, Clichy, Saint-Ouen, 
Gentilly, Montrouge. 

It was to one of these cite>, the Cite' Maupy, that Martin made his way, 
carrying Mademoiselle de Rieumes in his arms. Situated in the Rue 
Mercadet, the Cit6 Maupy was at first only a vast tract of waste land, 
which its position behind the Buttes Montmartre, far from all centres of 
communication, made useless, and, so to speak, deserted. Some rag-pickers 
went and took up their quarters there, hired the land by the yard, at so 
much a year, and themselves built their own dwellings. Rudimentary 
edifices : for the richer ones, one room where the whole family lives, eats 
and sleeps, and a second room in which to do the sorting of the produce of 
the baskets. The less fortunate have but one apartment, in which they sleep 
on their merchandise until an opportunity comes to sell it. The laws of 
health are certainly not very vigorously enforced, but these poor creatures 
are not over particular. And then, as they say, " What else can we do ? " 

To the lover of the picturesque the Cit6 Maupy presents a curious 
appearance. Ranged in tranverse and longitudinal streets, the houses — of 
which some are hovels in which a peasant would not put his sheep — are 
carefully numbered. Every style is here represented, from the cottage in 
old plaster, paving-stones and bricks, held together by clay and mud ; from 
the plank shanty, its interstices stuffed with rags, and its roof of tarred 



84 DISPATCH AND SEOREOT. 

cardboard ; to the camping-out tents, to a superb construction wholly 
composed of sardine-boxes and grate-registers. 

The Cite Maupy has its monuments. On the top of one of the houses, in 
the middle of the Grande-Rue, is an old bust of Louis Philippe, life size, in 
uniform, with the grand cordon and epaulettes. Thrown out of some 
politician's room in 1848, it was picked up by a sceptical rag-picker, who 
took it home. Further along, in the same street, is another bust, a woman 
this time, Madame de Sevigne, Marion de l'Orme, or possibly Manon 
Lescaut, fallen from their splendour into the basket and cast ashore at the 
Cite Maupy. As the song which Martin the bear sang has it : 

" All things in the end are rags." 

And in the midst of all this, in these streets where a pavement is a myth 
— -they build the houses of the paving-stones — swarms a motley assemblage : 
little boys and girls, chickens, dogs, geese and cats, living harmoniously 
together, making pleasure out of the veriest trifles, putting into practice 
Beranger's adage : 

" Beggars, 'tis true, 
Are a jovial crew." 

Living by himself, earning an honest livelihood, Prosper Martin treated 
himself to the luxury of two rooms, in the Rue Gambetta — so the rag- 
pickers have christened one of their streets. Relatively speaking, his dwell- 
ing was luxurious : A clean bed, with sheets and blankets, a table, a chair, 
whose ragged straw had been patched with an old bed vallance, a looking- 
glass and a cuckoo-clock, a real cuckoo-clock, which struck the hours. 
On the walls was a complete museum, a poor man's museum — penny images, 
chromo-lithographed advertisements which had been distributed in the 
street, and of which the general appearance rejoiced the eye by its multi- 
coloured effect. It was thither that he led, or rather carried, Colonel de 
Rieumes' daughter, picked up by him in the mud of the Boulevard de 
Rochechouart. He placed her, with all her clothes on, on the bed, arranged 
her head on the pillow with maternal care, covered her with his heavy 
cloak, and running out, went and knocked at the door of an adjoining 
hovel, 

" Who's there? " asked a hoarse voice, the voice of a woman husky from 
excessive drinking. 

"It's me, mother," said the rag-picker, " me, Prosper, the bear." 

"What do you want, you rascal? You've been boozing too much, I'll 
bet. You want somebody to look after you." 

" No, mother. It's not for myself ; it's more serious. Come here, I'll 
tell you." 

" Wait a minute, I'll come." 

A sound of bolts being drawn was heard ; then a woman appeared. 
Having been sleeping in her clothes, like the majority of the inhabitants of 
the cite, she was soon ready. She was a woman of about fifty, of medium 
height, wearing a fairly clean black dress, 'enveloped in a shawl, and wearing 
a flaring red handkerchief on her head. ' ' Mother Comfort " — the only name 
by which she was known — was a type of the cite. An old vivandidre, a 
woman of heart, courage, and experience, she was always doing her friends 
and neighbours services. Comforting the unhappy, nursing the sick, giving 
judicial and medical advice where it was needed, she possessed a real 
authority, which everyone, even " General La Crasse," a former professor, 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 85 

who had become a rag-picker out of scorn for human folly, tacitly ac- 
cepted. It was naturally to her that Prosper Martin, in this pressing case, 
had recourse. 

" Well, what is it, my lad ? " said Mother Comfort, issuing from her hut. 
"What's going on ? I've only just finished my round, and was beginning 
to doze when you knocked. I was tired out." 

"Something serious has happened, mother, and I want your help and 
advice. " 

" You're going to be married, p'raps ? " 

" Let me tell you. Just fancy, to-night I found a young girl on the 
outer boulevard, in front of the Elysi5e-Montmartre. " 

" Not such a rare thing nowadays." 

" Keep quiet, will you. No, not a street- walker. A poor girl of good 
family, so it seems to me. But unconscious. I took her to a doctor's." 

" Well, what did he say ? " 

" That it was congestion of the brain ; he wanted me to take her to the 
Lariboisiere Hospital. Fancy ! to the hosipital — never ! I brought her 
here. " 

"Where?" 

' ' To my house, of course ! " 

"Bravo, lad! And then ? " 

"And then I came to ask you to lend me a hand to attend to her." 

" Bravo again ! Be easy, I know more about such things than all the 
doctors and apothecaries in France and Navarre. I didn't go through the 
Crimean and Italian wars, with the brave Sixth of the Line — the heroes of 
Inkermann — without having got some experience. I've nursed and saved 
more than one poor little child of our great mother France. There, there, 
if it hadn't been for the major's jealousy, I should have had the military 
medal, for certain. Well, well, one has the others. " 

" Yes, yes," interrupted Martin. " But come and see my sick girl." 

" No fear, lad. What has to be done will be done. Come, let's have a 
look at her." 

" There she is," said " the bear," opening the door. 

" Ah ! poor little angel ! " cried Mother Comfort, clasping her hands to- 
gether. ' ' Isn't she pretty ! A regular little doll, a baby. And doesn't 
she shiver ! poor little thing. Wait, my pet, I'll cover you up a bit. Great 
blockhead, you've thrown her down there like a bag of chips ! " 

In a trice the good woman had lifted up the sides of the scanty mattress, 
and replaced the pillow, from which the patient's head had slipped. 

"Yes, she's an aristocrat," she muttered, looking at the delicate hands 
and little feet of Mademoiselle de Bieumes, " and a real one. But we must 
have them, you see, lad. If there were no rich folks, there would be no 
rags, and if there were no rags, the rag-pickers would starve. Those that 
say the contrary are fools, it's me who tells 'em so." 

She unfastened Jeanne's boots. She felt her feet. 

" Like ice ! I thought so. Of course, that's affected her head. Listen, 
my lad, run to my house, and on the table at the head of the bed you'll find 
some mustard plasters, some 'papier Rigollot.' Bring them to me. I'll 
be undressing her, poor dear soul. But where are you going to sleep ? " 

" Me, why, on a chair near her ! '" 

" Go and lie down on my bed. Rest easy; that won't trouble my dreams. 
I've known something in my time, and bigger swells than you, saving 
offence. Run along, my lud ; I'll look after the patient." 



86 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"Oh ! thanks, mother, for what you're doing now, see you—" said 
Prosper Martin, taking the old vivandiere's hand. 

" Go along, you don't want to seduce me ! " she cried, laughing. " There, 
give me a kiss, and go and fetch my ' Bigolos ; ' hurry up. " 

" Shall we save her *' " 

" I can't say. Go along when I tell you." 

" I'm going, mother." 

" And not too soon." 

" But on one condition — that I shall watch her with you when I come 
back." 

" No, my lad, you don't understand that a girl, especially when like this 
one, she looks like being light-headed, can't be nursed by a man. Sajpristi ! 
didn't they teach you manners when you were a soldier ? " 

' ' You're right, but if there's anything — " 

" Nonsense, get along ! " 



XXIV. 

THE EAG-PICKEES' DAUGHTER. 

The kind Prosper Martin had fetched the plaisters. But in spite of their 
application and the diet-drink of borage which, as an universal panacea, the 
ex-vivandidre had insisted on the patient swallowing, Jeanne fie Rieumes, 
when Prosper came to see her in the morning, was no better. On the con- 
trary, her condition seemed to be getting worse. Stretched motionless upon 
the rag-picker's bed, her eyes fixed and staring, Jeanne was in a state of 
complete prostration. And yet her lips moved, she seemed to be thinking 
and to wish to speak, but no sound issued from her mouth. The rag-picker 
cast an inquiring glance at his old friend. 

" No go, my lad ; it appears to me her head's affected. That's beyond 
me. She must have the doctor. " 

" Saperlotte ! " said "the bear," scratching his head, "my doctor's at 
the Notre-Dame or Lariboisiere, on free days. But I can't take her on my 
back and carry her there. " 

"There are doctors about here. It's not that that's wanting; one's as 
good as another, eh ? " 

"Yes, but he must be paid, and I'm rather hard up. Just to carry her 
here I had to throw away a splendid load." 

"That's bad. I've got an old crown-piece that I was keeping for my 
birthday. I'll pay for her. It'll bring me luck, p'raps. " 

" And to-morrow ? " 

"Ah! to-morrow. We shall see. In the meantime, stretch your legs 
and go and fetch the doctor, quick. There's no time to lose." 

Martin ran off and soon returned, accompanied by a doctor. The latter 
started with surprise at the sight of the young girl, whose features, dress, 
her whole person in fact, were so strangely at variance with her surround- 
ings. 

" Who is this person ? " he asked, " and how came she here ? " 

In a few words Prosper Martin and Mother Comfort informed him of 
what had happened. He was astounded. 

"And you have not troubled to know who she might be?" he said. 
" You have not searched for her parents ? " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 87 

•' We've been too busy trying to prevent her going off the hooks," replied 
the ex-vivandtire drily. " It wouldn't have been much good finding her 
parents to give 'em a dead body. " 

" You are quite right. The most important thing was to look to the 
patient. But to-night, to-morrow — " 

" Yes, of course. But look at her, sir, and tell us how she is." 

The doctor examined the patient, and shook his head. 

"Apparent sleep, and yet, in reality, sleeplessness," he said, "flushed 
forehead, inflammation of the conjunctiva, irregular shivers. Has she 
vomited ? " 

Yes, a little." 

" There is inflammation of the meninges, brain fever — the disease is 
making rapid way, delirium is imminent." 

" What's to be done ? " hazarded Mother Comfort. 

" I'll write you — But, believe me, this young girl is badly situated here ; 
you haven't means necessary to give her the attention and buy her the 
drugs that she will need. Go to the commissary of police, make a statement, 
and she will be taken to the hospital." 

"To the hospital! Very well, doctor, write your prescription first. 
We'll see to the rest, afterwards." 

The doctor scribbled a prescription. 

"How much do we owe you? " then asked Martin, looking meaningly at 
Mother Comfort. 

" Nothing, my friends ; you are doing a kind act, and the least I can do 
is to give you my assistance. I shall see you again soon, for until she 
leaves you I should not like to desert my patient." 

" Thanks, thanks, doctor, it's very good of you," cried the ex-vivdndiire. 
You're worthy to be a soldier." 

The doctor took his leave. Prosper Martin looked at his companion. 

" Well, what are you staring at me like that for ? " 

" Do you want to take her to the hospital, mother, eh ? " 

"No, a thousand times, no." 

" Nor me either. If she hasn't got every luxury she wants, she'll have 
at least every necessary." 

" Yes, but what will you do ? " 

" I've an idea." 

"Go along!" 

" That surprises you, but it's so. I'm going to tell my mates." 

"What!" 

' ' All the Cit6 Maupy. There are some right sorts in it. I'll explain 
the thing to them." 

" Well, I never ! " 

" And I shall ask them to lend a hand, so much per cent per day on the 
night's earnings. As it were a rag-tithe — " 

" It's not such a bad idea." 

"I believe you ; then you approve of it ? " 

"Of course. And, what's better than that, my lad, I must give you a 
kiss. You're worthy to be in the Sixth of the Line. OrebUu 1 Why, I'm 
crying like a fool." 

"Kiss me, mother, as much as you like. If I wasn't in your regiment, 
it wasn't my fault. At present I'm serving in the rag-pickers ; must keep 
up the honour of the regiment ! " 

" Run away, lad, I'll look after the child." 



88 DISPATCH AND SEOREOY. 

Prosper Martin hurried from door to door. Soon the whole cit6 was 
astir. Rag-pickers, male and female, surprised from their sleep, collected 
on the eminence which is situated near the entrance and asked one another 
about the serious matter which was about to be told them. Mother Com- 
fort was the first to speak. 

"My friends," said she, " something very touching has happened. Our 
comrade, Prosper Martin, alias 'the bear,' found last night a young lady, 
unconscious and dying, on the outer boulevard. There's perhaps a drama 
connected with this that would make M. Dumaine shudder. But, while 
we are waiting for it to be discovered, ,and for the traitor to receive his 
death-blow — which he well deserves — the poor girl is between life and death. 
The thing is to get her out of danger — " 

" Go on ! " cried an impatient rag-picker. 

" You'd do well to keep your mug shut and listen to me. Well, com- 
rades, this is what I propose ; in order to keep this poor child from the 
hospital and its consequences we will take on ourselves to pay for the 
medicine and the whole boiling. Everyone to give something when he 
comes home in the morning. Some rags, others bones, a third old iron, for 
the patient's stock. She will be a rag-picker without knowing it. " 

" Good idea ! " cried several of the audience. 

"Business is bad," objected a dissentient voice, "we can hardly make 
both ends meet." 

" Well, we'll pull the buckle a hole tighter. It's plain you've never 
been a soldier, Jabuzot. Let those who don't like it be off. There'll be 
plenty of willing ones left. It's the custom for the rich to give alms to the 
poor, now the poor can pay some of it back. Now then, who'll subscribe? " 

" I ! I ! I ! " cried a hundred voices at once. 

" I, too — all of us," said Jabuzot, ashamed of his hesitation, and holding 
both his hands up. 

" Yes, all ; for you are all good fellows and true children of France," 
cried the ex-vivandiere with emotion. " Well, the little one will want for 
nothing as long as there are rags and rag-pickers, that is to say as long as 
the world goes round. The rag-picker is part of Paris, for no one meddles 
with him. " 

" There's no fear of that ! " 

"Paris without rag-pickers, that would be a rum go." 

"It's impossible, of course. So no one dreams of it." 

" Splendid ! " cried Prosper the bear. " Upon my word, it's like the 
Ambigu or the Porte-Martin. My little waif's adopted ; my song brought 
her luck ; she's the Rag-pickers' Daughter." 

" Long live the Rag-pickers' Daughter ! " cried the crowd. 

XXV. 

THE VISION REALISED. 

Worn out by the emotions of the day, by the fatigues of the night, by the 
grief which the disappearance of his betrothed and his powerlessness to 
help her caused him, exhausted by physical suffering and the loss of blood 
occasioned by his wound, Clairac had fainted, and it was in a state of un- 
consciousness that his seconds took him back to the Place Pigalle. With 
a thousand precautions they placed him on his bed ; then Mederic felt his 
pulse. 



DISPATCH AND SKCBECY. 89 

"Well? " asked the anxious reporter. 

" It's odd," said the tall, fair young man, "he's feverish already. It 
should not have come so soon. " 

" Then his wound is serious ? " 

" No, I think not. A complication, that's all." 

" What are you going to do, then ? " 

"I, nothing. I have provided for the most urgent wants. Now let a 
doctor be fetched. I can't take upon myself to go on treating him. If he 
died, it would make it bad for me. " 

_ "Quite right. After all, we were very good-natured to undertake to be 
his seconds, on the spur of the moment, without knowing why or how. 
Our part's played now. Let us hand him over to his servant and go our 
ways." 

' ' Come along. We'll call for news of him to-morrow, eh ? " 

" Certainly. Will you come and have breakfast with me ? " 

"Where?" 

"At Noel's. I've got an appointment with two friends about a little 
affair." 

" Right. But if they speak about the duel ? " 

" Keep silent. I won't say a word about it in my paper." 

"Really?" 

" Honour bright." 

" The deuce. Then it's serious ? " 

" So it seems. I know nothing about it." 

" Well, come along." 

They summoned Clairac's servant and impressed upon him the most pro- 
found secrecy. Then they went off to breakfast. 

When they called, two days later, to inquire after the wounded man, 
they were told that he was well, and had gone to the South to recruit. 

"Well, he's a nice fellow ! " said Voiville. " Not even a card, to say 
good-bye to anyone. Ah ! if I hadn't promised not to tell ! What a bit of 
news ! Never mind, I have an idea." 

The next day he published in his paper the following paragraph, which 
made the round of the press : 

" Paul Clairac, the young and already celebrated artist, for whom the 
grand medal of the next Salon is destined, has just left for the South of 
France. Whilst recovering his health, which has been rather affected by 
continuous work, he will profit by his stay in the old Provencal towns to 
bring us back a series of studies." 

"In this way," said Voiville, rubbing his hands, " I profit by the news, 
and not only do not talk too much, but prevent others from doing so." 

After three days of burning fever, Paul recovered consciousness. With 
eyes heavy from sleep, he looked about him. Where was he ? He knew 
not. He found himself in a room which he had never seen, and whose 
luxury contrasted strongly with the simplicity of his little bedroom in the 
Place Pigalle. Around him on all sides, from the carved and painted 
ceiling, hung a blue satin curtain, enclosing large mirrors, and giving 
repose to the eyes. At the far end, also draped with blue satin, was the 
bed on which he lay. Opposite him, through two large windows, entered 
the light, softened by stained glass windows, and broad muslin curtains. 



90 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

In the half-light Paul could distinguish, upon the satin of the walls, 
magnificent pictures with dead-gold frames. At whose house was he? 
Where had he been taken to ? For he recollected now. He remembered 
his duel — his wound — and Jeanne's abduction. 

Jeanne, where was she, whilst he, unconscious, unable to defend her, 
was lying on this bed ? He tried to rise ; he felt a sharp pain ; his eyes 
grew dim again, and he fell back on his pillow. And, through the mist 
which veiled his sight, a vision, the vision which he had seen on the night 
before the duel, re-appeared. He saw, bending over his couch, the woman 
with the golden face, the luxuriant tresses, the eyes of fire. 

Madame Wilson, Dolores, " the princess ! " She was gazing at him, 
covering him with a motherly look, searching his face for the least change, 
the least sign of pain. Why did this dream return ? Why this woman's 
image again ? Paul made an effort to dismiss this importunate vision. 
He tried to think of Jeanne, hoping that her beloved image would come 
and replace that of Dolores ; vain effort. Still, still, anxious, attentive, 
tender, and loving, the Spanish woman's face bent over Paul's. It bent 
over him so closely that he touched it. He felt a burning hand pressing 
his own ; he felt warm breath on his forehead ; he felt two lips lightly 
touch his own. 

" Ah ! " he cried, angrily, " when will this dream be over ? " 

A dream ! It was no dream. The hand which held him became icy cold, 
and loosed its hold ; Dolores, deadly pale, drew back quickly. Paul 
looked at her, aghast. 

" You," he muttered, " you, madame ? Where am I, then ? " 

" At my house, where I took you in, wounded, dying." 

" You ! Then you knew ? Yes, I remember now, the night before my 
duel, when I was writing to Jeanne, I thought it was fancy ; then it was you?" 

She bowed her head without replying. There was silence for a while. 
Suddenly Paul sprang up in bed. 

' ' Where am I, then ? in your house ? Ah ! I cannot, I must not be here, 
I must not remain here. Madame, I must go at once." 

She rose sadly, and went and opened the door wide, then, returning to the 
bed, she offered the wounded man her hand to assist him to rise ; he refused it. 
She drew back softly, looking at him without bitterness or reproach. For 
the second time he tried to rise. A second time he fell back strengthless. 

" Oh ! " he cried. " There is a curse on me ! " 

"No, Paul," said Dolores, in a gentle voice, and bathed with tears. 
"No; but you are still too weak, and it is only right to tell you that, 
were you strong enough to get up, you would not be sufficiently so to make 
the journey from here to Paris." 

She trembled as she said this, as if she had done some evil deed. 

"The journey ! " said Paul, surprised, "the journey ! Am I far from 
Paris, then ? Where am I ? Tell me, madame." 

" In the country, near Nice, where I brought you by the doctor's orders, 
who told me that otherwise you would die." 

" But, how long have I been ill ? " 

"Nearly a month, already," replied Dolores, turning her face away, so 
that it should not betray the lie she was telling. 

"A month ! a month ! Then, what has happened during all this time in 
Paris? What has become of Mademoiselle de Rieumes ? What crimes 
have been committed ? Ah ! madame, madame ! What have I done to you, 
that you should make me suffer thus ? " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 91 

"What have you done to me, Paul?" she replied, in accents of infinite 
tenderness. " What have you done tome? Do you not know that I love you 
with all the strength of my soul ? That I love you as woman never loved ? 
That I love you enough to drive jealousy from my heart, to conceal within 
myself the hatred which tortures me, to aid you, in order to see you happy, 
to find her who has taken my place in your affection, were she a mortal 
enemy, were she unworthy of you ? " 

"What do you say ? " 

" Yes, Paul, I love you as before, more than before. But my love is not 
selfish. Only let me see you happy, and, in the cruel torture which your 
happiness with another will cause me, I shall still have ineffable joy, the 
joys of sacrifice, the joys of martyrdom. But, mind you, what I will not 
allow is, that you should be deceived, that you should suffer in your love, 
that you should be the laughing-stock of everyone, as you were about to be." 

" Wretched woman 1 You lie ! " 

"I lie? Was it I who warned you? Was it not your best friend who 
caught hold of you on the brink of the precipice ? You tried to kill him for 
his pains, and it was only by wounding you that he was able to save his own 
life. And when wounded, dying, you were brought home, did she come, 
she who loves you, she for whom you fought, she for whom you were ready 
to die, did she even come and see what had happened ? " 

" She had disappeared, had been carried off." 

" No, she had fled, fled with her lover, fled with the father of the child 
whom she was having brought up on the quiet. With the man whom 
the announcement of the marriage would have ruined, who was determined 
that it should not happen, who prevented it." 

" But who ? who ? " cried Paul furiously, " Pringy, perhaps ? " 

' No, Pringy only told you what everyone knows, what you alone were 
ignorant of. The man for whose sake Jeanne de Rieumes has forgotten her 
duty and her rank is an obscure plebeian, a clerk, whomshe took a fancy 
to, and who, loving her sincerely, forced her to follow him." 

" Tell me his name ! " 

" Madman ! what would you do? You will provoke him as you pro- 
voked the Comte de Pringy. But this man will not fight. And why 
should he ? Because he has been the lover of a woman whom you love, 
whom you want to marry ? Ah ! Paul, my beloved Paul, how lucky is she 
who causes such transport in your heart ! How guilty is she who despises 
love like yours ! " 

Paul raised his eyes to Dolores. She was pale and agitated. Beneath 
her long black eyelashes a tear had gathered, ready to roll down her 
cheek. 

"The woman who loves sincerely," she continued, "ought to desire 
before anything the happiness of him whom she loves ; no sacrifice, no 
pain should stand in her way. The woman who loves should be the 
devoted slave of him who has caused her heart to beat. I felt that, Paul, 
the day when, for the first time, I met you in my palaceat Rome. In the 
midst of that fete of which I was queen, when all the men worshipped me, 
you appeared to me as my king ! I who laid my commands on all, who 
made playthings of all, I felt that you were henceforward my master. I 
came to you, scorning the world and its pettiness. What mattered it to 
me ? I loved you ! Oh ! Paul, what delicious days we spent alone to- 
gether under the sky of Naples. If God denies me my part in Paradise, I 
shall have had my Paradise on earth, with you. " 



92 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

She spoke, and her voice, timid at first, glowed in ringing accents of 
strange and fascinating harmony. Her eyes, dry now, sparkled like two 
black diamonds, enveloping the young man in their magnetic influence. 
He did not attempt to interrupt her now ; as if a charm had overcome him, 
he listened to her, at her mercy. 

" You tried to escape me," she continued, "and, like a jealous lioness, 
I recaptured you ; I would have gone to the bottom of Vesuvius— to hell — 
to seek you. But I found out one day that you no longer loved me, and on 
that day I plucked hope from my heart. The mistress became a sister, a 
mother rather. You asked to marry Mademoiselle de Rieumes. To bring 
about that marriage I would have given everything, soul, body, life. It 
was to make you happy. I should have suffered in silence, happy to die 
for your happiness. But she whom you love deceives you, deserts you. 
You weep, you suffer. I take you again, I resume possession of my own. 
I say to you, ' Paul, my Paul, come back to me. Forsaken one, shed thy 
tears on a sympathising breast ! ' : ' 

Was it weakness occasioned by those fresh emotions, by his efforts, by 
pain ? Was it magnetic fascination ? Paul, under the influence of this 
woman, forgot everything. He fancied he was living over again those 
nights in Naples, so sweet, so intoxicating. A peculiar torpor took posses- 
sion of him. And when Dolores, who, as she spoke, had brought her face 
closer and closer to his, touched Paul's lips with hers, Paul, seizing the 
fascinator's head, returned her caress by a long embrace. 

If, less absorbed, Clairac had been able to get up and walk to the 
window, instead of the hot sun of Nice he would have seen through the 
muslin curtains the grey and gloomy sky of Paris, would have recognised 
the trees of the Champs-Elysees. He would, to his great surprise, no doubt, 
have heard a harsh, disagreeable voice singing beneath the window the 
refrain as languishing as popular : 

" Our cup with frenzied pleasure full, 
Let us unhurried wend our way ; 
And for my darling let me cull 
The lilac's very earliest spray." 



XXVI. 

THE TWO BLIND MEN. 

The man who was singing the romance wore a pitiful appearance ; clad in 
shapeless and nameless rags, his face covered with red blotches, his eyes 
staring, fixed, and white, his gait painful and uncertain. He was one of 
those hundred thousand beggars of Paris who, in spite of prohibitive orders, 
live on charity, and very frequently on public credulity. This one, how- 
ever, appeared to be deserving of pity, for the nameless disease of which he 
bore the traces on his face had deprived him of his sight, as this placard on 
his breast testified : 

BLIND. 

FROM TURNING OF THE BLOOD. 

What is the meaning of " turning of the blood ? " It matters little ; the 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 93 

wretched man suffered, at any rate, and frequent sons were dropped into 
his greasy and misshapen straw hat. 

(t And for my darlimg let me cull 
The lilac's very earliest spray." 

Standing in front of the house, the blind man, in a burst of enthusiasm, 
raised his eyes to heaven. And although almost all the shutters were 
closed, saving on the second floor--in the room in which Paul Clairac laid, 
and of which the curtains alone were drawn — those eyes, dead, lifeless, 
expressionless, seemed eager to plunge into the interior of the house. 
Once the curtains moved, the blind man started, but that was all, and, 
moving on, he continued his song : 



" Our cup with frenzied pleasure full 
Let us unhurried wend our way." 



" So much the worse !" said the beggar, pausing, "Not a cat about. 
No one moving in the place, and my throat begins to feel bad. Let's have 
a rest for a minute. We'll go on with the song presently." 

His eyes resumed their normal expression, which caused a great change 
in his face. In spite of the red blotches which covered his face, it was easy 
now to recognise the detective, Fauvette, the chief of police's right hand man. 
What was Fauvette doing, and why this disguise ? The reason was that, 
since the confrontation, and in spite of the arguments of M. Daiiffin, the 
magistrate, and of M. Manuel, the commissary, the chief of police was con- 
vinced of M. de Pringy's innocence, at least in so far as concerned the 
murder. As he said, a man does not commit two crimes thus distinct with- 
out there being a point of contact between them. And, moreover, the 
count's attitude struck him. He was ready to stake his life that this man 
had been the victim of a fatal error. It was important, then, either to dis- 
cover the connection between the crimes, or to prove the accused's innocence. 
His examination had disclosed but little. Too proud to have recourse to 
subterfuges, Pringy had told the magistrate almost everything. 

He had told him how, having learnt that Jeanne had a child at nurse, he 
had gone to Charly ; how he had warned Paul Clairac ; how the latter, after 
having hesitated a moment, had challenged him to a duel ; how the next 
morning he had learnt upon the ground, from his opponent's mouth, 
Jeanne's flight. He had only concealed one fact : the way in which he had 
heard of little Jean-Marie-Victor's existence. He was ashamed to confess 
that he had had recourse to an agency, and to mix up M. Loyal-Francceur's 
name in the matter. The introduction of the latter would, he felt, have 
been more hurtful than profitable. It would have given his conduct a mer- 
cantile and shady appearance which would have been fatal. Far from en- 
lightening the magistrate, this tale had only had the effect of convincing him 
more and more strongly of the count's cunning and duplicity. So he pushed 
matters on and made up his mind to commit him to the next assizes. 

Fortunately for Pringy, M. Dauffin is the born foe of the press and of 
papers of every shade of opinion, which he detests and despises as the organs 
of scandal and corruption. But, besides this, he was anxious not to com- 
promise the name of Mademoiselle de Rieumes, who was still being sought for 
in vain. It was this fact which had prevented him from sending a commis- 
sioner to Chateau-Thierry to examine the Woman Derousse. Accordingly he 
had carefully kept secret all the details of the case. Gratien Voiville him- 



94 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

self, in spite of the part he had taken in the discovery of the crime, had been 
obliged to keep his mouth shut. But during this time the chief of police 
had set on foot a counter-investigation. For this purpose he had summoned 
Antheaume and Fauvette, of whom M. Manuel had no need, and who were 
already informed of the course that events had taken. 

" To make an inquiry properly," he said to them, " it is necessary not 
only to look to probabilities but, in addition, to get to know the antecedents 
and history of the people who, in some way or other, have been mixed up 
in the affair. So go and find out. I want biographies of the victim, the 
prisoner, the girl, her lover, and all those with whom they associate.'' 

"How much time do you give us for that, sir ? " Fauvette had asked. 

" Garte blanche, provided that you have finished before the prisoner is 
arraigned. " 

"A good month at least, then." 

"About that." 

" You shall have it." 

The two comrades had departed and settled upon their parts. Antheaume 
was to devote his attention to Jeanne and the count : Fauvette to Pedrillo 
and Paul Clairac. Now, Fauvette had learned some strange things. In the 
first place about the pretended lieutenant-general of his Catholic Majesty, 
Don Pedrillo de la Concha de San-Fernando y Galiano — known in all the 
hells as a sharper, and possibly something worse ; having for a long time 
past lived at the expense of a gay woman named Dolores ; still preserving 
relations — occasionally somewhat strained — with a Spanish woman known 
under the name of "the princess," Madame Wilson, the Marquise de la 
Galiano, who lived in a splendid mansion in the Avenue Montaigne. 
Then, to his great surprise, that Paul Clairac had been the princess's lover 
at Rome, and that she had followed him to Paris. 

Between these three individuals there was a secret. Paul and Pedrillo 
appeared to have been rivals formerly. A strange business. If, instead of 
the Comte de Pringy, it was Paul Clairac who had murdered the Spaniard? 
What a discovery ! Fauvette, whose brain was hard at work, had gone to 
the Place Pigalle and asked to see Paul. He expected to be told that he 
was wounded, ill. He had to confess 'himself nonplussed when the servant 
coolly said to him : 

" M. Clairac is not in Paris. He is travelling in the South." 

" Whereabouts ? " 

" No one knows." 

" Where would a letter reach him ? " 

"Here." 

" How would letters be sent to him ? " 

" He will send to fetch them ; or he will find them here on his return." 

Fauvette retired, crestfallen. But a thought struck him all at once — 
the "princess?" By watching her he might arrive at a solution of the 
mystery. We have seen that he was right. It was Dolores who, on the 
evening of the day on which the duel was fought, on carrying off the still un- 
conscious Paul to her house, had given the young man's servant — heavily 
tipped by her — orders to say that M. Clairac was away. Returning to 
head quarters, Fauvette got himself up as a blind man and made his way to 
the Avenue Montaigne. He had been there for two hours, not even suc- 
ceeding in causing a window to be opened, when he uttered an exclama- 
tion of surprise. From the end of the avenue another blind man was 
approaching, tapping with his stick; this one, "blind from amaurosis," 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 95 

was wearing a pair of enormous blue spectacles which concealed his eyes 
and eyebrows. 

"Hallo !" said Fauvette, "a rival ! We shall be like Patachon and 
Giraffier on the Pont des Arts. It's funny, I have an idea that this fellow 
is no more blind than I am." 

Without further ado he walked with arms stretched out towards the 
fresh arrival. The latter held on his way. A collision was inevitable. It 
took place. 

" Take care, fool ! " cried Fauvette. 

" Take care yourself, I'm blind ! " replied the new comer, in a doleful 
voice. 

But in the shock his spectacles had become disarranged. Fauvette had 
seen his adversary's eyes. 

"I beg pardon, sir, I'm blind myself," he murmured, piteously. 
" But I'm going. I'll make way for you. I've not made a sou here," and off 
he went. 

" Who can this fellow be ? " said the blind man to himself, when he had 
gone. 

As for Fauvette, he remarked : " Loyal-Francoeur, the inquiry-agent of 
the Hue des Chantres ! The plot thickens." 

XXVII. 

IN WHICH THE CHIEF OF POLICE -BEGINS TO SEE THE CONNECTION. 

M. Loyal-Feancoeuk, for his part, had not recognised Fauvette. And 
yet this odd meeting with a second blind man outside the "princess's" 
house should not have failed to astonish him. But he had other matters 
to think of. When, on the evening of the day of the duel, he had pre- 
sented himself at the house and had been told that Madame Wilson was 
away, when he had sworn not to let himself be " floored," as he said, his 
first thought had been to go to the Place Pigalle. He, too, had been told 
that Paul Clairac had gone away. That had made him feel rather uneasy. 
Had Dolores really carried the artist off, and had she really gone herself ? 
But, that evening, on returning to the Avenue Montaigne, after several 
hours of fruitless observation, he had finally seen lights within. The 
house was inhabited, then. Now, allowing that they were only used by 
servants, it was still a sign that the absence of the mistress of the house 
would not be of long duration, unless, indeed, this woman, peculiar as she 
was, had had the idea of going away alone, giving up everything in order 
to live alone with Paul in some unknown retreat. In this case it would be 
advisable to watch the house ; perhaps he would be able to discover the 
secret of this retreat. There were several ways of doing this : to follow a 
servant to the post, look out for the postman, and try to discover the ad- 
dress of a letter. It was with this intent that, disguised, and, as he be- 
lieved, unrecognisable, he was keeping an eye on the house and searching 
for some clue. 

But the windows remained closed, and on two occasions the porter had 
come out and requested the unfortunate beggar to take his infirmity and 
his doleful songs elsewhere. He persisted nevertheless, saying to himself, 
with his cunning instinct, that if the game was not in its haunt it would 
sooner or later return there. He had just acquired a proof that there was 



gg DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

.„ +ll » Vmncip. when he was recognised by the detective. The 
LTrlost n^time, and, w^outpuHing o#his disguise, he made his way 
£ \Z Ouai de l'Horloge. The police sentinel at the door ooked at him 
n astonXnl^Va rule persons in the category to which Fauvette 
'eemed to belong only entered this door in the prison van. _ But, after all, 
as the commissariat for the Saint-Germain -lAuxerrois district is there, the 
blind man had perhaps come to have his papers examined, to ask for assist- 
ance, or to give himself up as a prisoner ; the sentinel let him pass. He 
cross'ed the court-yard of the Depot, entered the "temporary" corridor, 
which for the last four or five years has served as the entry to this part of 
the building, and mounted to the first-floor, where are situated the offices 
affected by the frail fair and the private room of the chief of police. 
Fauvette entered coolly and, forgetting his disguise, held out his hand to 
the doorkeeper, who started with surprise and indignation. 

" Is the chief in ? " he asked. 

"Fauvette ! " cried the man. " Devil take me if I should know you, if 
it had not been for your voice. Sapristi ! what a get up ! — what a face ! " 

"All right, all right, I'm in a hurry." 

" The chief's in but he's working, and has given orders not to be dis- 
turbed. But, if it's urgent — " 

" Very urgent." 

" I'll tell him, then ; but wait a minute, go into that room. Your ap- 
pearance is rather too bad. " 

" Go along, go along, there are worse than me." 

The porter went and knocked at the chief's door. The latter was, in 
fact, at work. Continuing his investigations into the " Pringy affair," as 
the magistrate called it, and which he had named the " X. affair," he had 
thought it advisable to interrogate the nurse at Charly, and had entrusted 
this task to Antheaume. In the pretended inspector of nursed children the 
detective had had no difficulty in recognising the Comte de Pringy, and 
this had confirmed the answers given by the accused in his examination. 
But, at the same time, Antheaume had succeeded in discovering the name 
..f the midwife who had confided the child to the nurse's care. 

"I don't know what her name is," said Victoire, "but I heard the name 
of the .street ; it's the name of something to eat." 

" What ? Rue de la Fromagererie, de la Boucherie ? " 

" No, wait a minute, it's bread." 

" The Rue Daufin, the Rue—" 

" No, the Rue Tranche— Coupe— " 

11 The Rue Taille-Pain?" 

"That's it: Taille-Pain. Yes, that's right. I thought it was some- 
thing ab °ut bread. Yes, it's a midwife of the Rue Taille-Pain." 

With his wonted skill Antheaume had soon found out Madame Broussel's 
name. He knew, therefore, that it was she who had taken little Jean- 
victor to Madame Derousse's. Getting to know next the approximate age 
Tl,w\ C A h l had searched at the registrar's office of the Fourth 
Men, w"?™.?. S!!: l ™*£ * he certificate of birth, which we have seen in 



Mnnsfonv t ~„„i v — ""~*" ""= vex uiuuaLe oi Dirrn, wnicn we nave seen in 
chl ^ Th^tteV Wl CCe + r% hands i and of wl ^hhe took a copy to his 
new inquiry which hl'^™*?™' ? lmost a11 the necessary evidence in the 

^T^^e^t^r^^^^^^^J^ Chi6f ° f P° Hce 
case was a problem,^' solution of wh£n murtbHiJ*™ 1 F* * ? ±ninal 
equation of which he had to nndlhltLown ££££"&£ lif^t 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 97 

of the equation, the question was to find X. Having examined one 
after the other all the connections which it was possible existed between 
Don Pedrillo the victim, and Pringy the presumed murderer ; between 
Clairac and Pringy ; between Clairac and the " princess," he was trying to 
discover the grand tie which bound them all together. This tie he could 
not find. He read over for the fourth time little Jean-Victor's certificate 
of birth. 

" What is this child ? " he muttered, for the trap was too clumsy for 
him to suppose for a moment that he was really the son of Mademoiselle 
de Rieumes. " What is this child, and what interest had anyone, or rather, 
who had an interest in making it pass for that of this girl ? Someone who 
wanted to prevent her marriage. Here two cases present themselves ; 
either a man who loves her, or a woman who loves her intended. The 
woman I know, but she herself, as I am told, has broken off with Clairac, 
her lover ; and, if it be she, why did she have Pedrillo murdered, who 
played towards her the part of Sigisbe, and who interfered in none of her 
whims— on the contrary? Well, if it be she, how did she go to work? 
who helped her ? if she was the head, who was the arm ? What do they 
want to do with the poor baby ? Where did they get it ? Son of Victor 
Borin. Who is Victor Borin ? The midwife — I know her ; I have seen 
her twice at Saint-Lazare ; the witnesses : a commissionaire and a practi- 
tioner — a practitioner ! some poor copyist dying of hunger, to whom they 
give a few francs and a glass of wine to go to the mayor's." The chief 
had arrived at this point when the doorkeeper entered. 

" What is it? I don't want to be disturbed," cried the magistrate 

' ' It's Fauvette, who says he has something to tell you. " 

" Show him in, quick ! " 

Fauvette, still as Patachon, but as proud in his rags as Don Caesar de 
Bazan, threw himself like a bomb-shell into his chief's room. 

" A discovery, sir ! Whom do you think I found as a rival blind man, 
in front of the princess's house ? Loyal-Francceur, the inquiry-agent of 
the Rue des Chantres ! " 

"An inquiry-agent ! " cried the chief of police. "Ah i I've found my 
link ! " 



XXVIII. 

zidore's confidences. 

" I understand," repeated the chief of police ; " but will the magistrate 
understand ? He persists in piling up what he believes to be proofs against 
this poor count, who, I am certain, has been but an unconscious instrument. 
But why did not the count say that it was Loyal-Francceur who was be- 
hind him ? " 

"He was afraid of compromising himself, perhaps," hazarded 
Fauvette. 

" You are right ; pride ! human imbecility ! people get their heads cut 
off from pride. What a strange_ phantasmagoria is humanity ! I who, by 
virtue of the law, am charged with the discovery of crime, am forced now 
to make every effort to prove that this supposed murderer is innocent." 

" Who forces you ? " said Fauvette. " Let them go ahead." 

"Yes, others would do so in my place. What matters the life of a 

D 



98 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

man ? A mere trifle ! Of what account is a head which falls beneath the 
knife of the guillotine ? A fig ! As long as the honour of. the law remains 
intact ; as long as it is granted that the police are not wrong. Well, I 
won't admit that. No ! No ! No ! " 

He brought his fist down on the table. Fauvette looked at him aghast. 
"Yes, that was the theory of Vidocq, and of Coco-Latour, his successor," 
continued the chief of police, without noticing the effect he had produced 
on his listener. "Yes, a victim they must have. This victim they got 
hold of anyhow, the first chance, some poor wretch tired of life, unable to 
defend himself. People praised their skill, their names became famous — 
infamous ! That course I will not pursue ; that notoriety I will not earn !" 

" The fact is — " began Fauvette. 

"People will say that I am not so clever as I should be," continued 
the chief. " Yes, not so clever, but at least an honest man and not an 
assassin. Yes, when I am certain of a culprit's guilt I pursue him to the 
end with fury, with eagerness, with rage. But when I see a poor wretch, 
overwhelmed with proofs, crushed by lying charges, ready to become a 
fresh victim of judicial mistakes, I am as eager to save him as I am to 
destroy a criminal. And it is for that reason that, as my colleagues say, 
I ' make a mess of things ; ' they say I'm a blunderer. My own conscience 
says to me : ' You are an honest man. ' ' 

" Bravo ! bravo ! " cried the detective enthusiastically. 

"Hullo, Fauvette, I was not thinking of you — I had forgotten you — I 
had gone back to my dreams," said the chief of police, coming to his senses. 
"I've so many troubles, look you. Nowadays people mistrust me, suspect 
me, hate me, they accuse me of inactivity." 

" Oh, sir," protested Fauvette. 

" Yes, they accuse me of inactivity, I who work twelve and fifteen hours 
a day. Let them leave me alone, they shall see — but no, all their wits are 
employed in putting stumbling-blocks in my path, in preventing me from 
succeeding. Instead of being a great and holy league, to which everyone 
contributes for the public good, the police is nowadays no better than a 
badly managed machine in which everyone tries to overreach his neighbour." 

" That's true," said Fauvette. " But, sir, supposing we returned to our 
affair." 

"You are right. I'm dreaming, and saying what I ought to keep to 
myself. Like a bad soldier, I'm complaining of want of discipline and am 
preaching it myself. Everything is going to the bad, for certain, and the 
most devoted are going with the stream. Fauvette, my lad, you must for- 
get what you have heard. " 

"Yes, sir.' 

" I'm wrong, I'm wrong. When the general commands, no one, neither 
officer nor soldier, should dispute. Fauvette, you are an old Zouave, you 
must understand that ? " 

" I quite understand it, sir, but, all the same — " 

"Enough. To our business. We are dogs, we must find the game and 
bring back the pack from the false scent. It is our duty, let us fulfil it. 
Where did you say M. Loyal-Francceur lived ? " 

"No. 13, Rue des Chantres." 

"He must be watched, but cautiously. This man, mind you, is the 
moving spirit in the whole affair. But, I'd stake my life on it that he has 
taken his measures so that there shall be no proof against him. If we 
make a false- step, if he suspects that he is being watched, he will slip out 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 99 

of our hands, and all our labour will be in vain. He's not a wolf to be 
dislodged, he's a fox to be tracked ; act accordingly, Fauvette." 

"Command, sir, I will obey." 

" There's another matter. The girl. This wretch must have hidden her 
away in some corner only known to himself. She is his hostage, his 
guarantee. If we arrested him, we should never set eyes on her again." 

"What's to be done, then ? " 

" He must be narrowly and safely watched. It is a question of life and 
death. Ah ! one important question. Does Loyal-Francceur know you ? " 

"No, I don't think so. I saw him at the court one day, with one of his 
clients. I took notice of his face. But he had no reason for noticing me." 

' ' Then go and do your best. I shall try and obtain a further postpone- 
ment from the magistrate. May God help us to do the rest ! " 

The next morning, at ten o'clock exactly, a gentleman presented himself 
at the Rue des Chantres. A fair specimen of a suburban tradesman, small 
straw hat, an overcoat provided with an enormous and pretentious rabbit- 
skin collar, heavy waxed shoes, shining like a looking-glass, small gold 
earrings, a prodigious silver watch-chain, and green wool mittens covering 
his wrists. He rang timidly and waited. Isidore, as usual, went and half 
opened the door. 

" M. Loyal-Francceur lives here, doesn't he?" asked the good man in a 
hesitating voice. 

" What do you want ? " replied the humpback's squeaky voice. 

" Ah,, it's a long story, sir. A most complicated affair. You must know 
that on All Saints' day^-no, it was the 'Day of the Dead,' my cousin 
Lardiche came to see me. Wait a minute, I think I'm wrong ; it was All 
Saints'." 

" Come in," said the humpback, drawing back. 

The man came in. 

" Sit down," said the humpback. 

The man sat down, placed his hat on the ground by the side of his chair 
and dragged an enormous pocket-book from his overcoat. 

" As I was telling you, M. Loyal-Francceur, my cousin came to my house 
to dinner. ^Yell — " 

" I'm not M. Loyal-Francceur," said the humpback drily. " Wait." 

"Ah ! I beg pardon ; I thought — And where is he, the good gentleman ' " 

"He's out." 

"Ah ! will it be long before he's in ? " 

"J don't know." 

" That's awkward. But you, sir, you're in his shop." 

"There's no shop here. There's a business and consulting office," said 
the clerk drily. 

" I beg pardon ; but, look you, it's habit. No offence. You see, I've 
got a shop — Jean-Baptiste Palaiseau, at your service, if I can do anything 
for you. I live at Montrouge, Rue d'Al^sia, a new street. I bought some 
land there — cheap. I built a shop and set up as a seedsman. It's not a 
bad trade, but it depends on the season. There are ups and downs. " 

"What's all that to me?" said the humpback crossly. 

" Ah ! that's true, you're not your own master, but I've got my business. 
I came by the Montrouge tramway to the Eastern Railway station. 
They're very convenient, those tramcars. A while back we had only a 



100 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

little omnibus where there was never any room, and once I had a rather 
funny adventure. There was a young lady in the neighbourhood had an 
appointment. She goes into the office — " 

" I must beg you, sir ; I've got my work to do." 

" Ah, that's true. I'll shut up." 

The seedsman threw himself back in his armchair and pulled out his watch. 

" Saperlotte ! " he muttered, " twenty -five minutes to eleven, and my wife 
alone in the shop. I say, young man, you who belong to the ship — " 

" What ship ? " asked the humpback, losing all patience. 

" To the trade, to the crib, there ! you couldn't give me a consultation, 
in your master's place ? " 

' ' I don't give consultations. " 

" But it is so simple, you see ; I'll pay you well. I've confidence in you." 

Jean Baptiste Palaiseau placed a ten-franc piece on the humpback's 
desk. The latter hesitated. We know that money had an irresistible 
influence on him. 

" Well, we might see what we could do," he hazarded. 

" Listen, young man, I'm rather confused in this place. I'm used to do- 
ing my business over a glass. If a trot out for a few minutes isn't incon- 
venient — " 

' ' The master might come in. " 

" That's your affair Then I'll wait. But if you thought he would be 
long—" 

The humpback hesitated. On one hand the love of gain tempted him ; 
but, on the other, M. Loyal-Francceur had expressly ordered him not to 
leave the office. Quite taken up, first with Jeanne de Rieumes, and after- 
wards with the " princess," Loyal-Francceur did not know of M. de 
Pringy's arrest. He was unaware even that the police had discovered the 
murder of Don Pedrillo. He had taken such infinite precautions to favour 
the idea of suicide and to conceal the identity of the body ! He was 
awaiting, then, his "client's " visit ; the client who had been so useful to 
him, the client who had done so much in such a short time. But, in 
consequence of Jeanne's unexpected escape, his position towards Pringy 
had been a trifle modified. He had told him with so much confidence that 
he would discover the young girl, that he trembled to see him arrive, the 
bearer of a cheque for two hundred thousand francs, and demanding that 
the bargain should be carried out. What a blow to have to refuse the 
cheque and confess his impotence ! Accordingly the inquiry-agent had 
temporarily deserted his office in the Rue de Chantres, where Isidore re- 
mained alone, with orders to make the clients wait, to entertain them, to 
get them to call again. This task was a most unpleasant one to the hump- 
back, accustomed as he was to work like a machine, and accordingly he 
performed it very badly. 

" Well, what do you say ? Just one glass, while I explain my business ? " 
said the seedsman, seeing that the clerk hesitated. 

" If I was Certain the master wouldn't come in — " began the latter. 

" Well, do you think I should wait—? " 

" He's out of town. Only I don't want to leave the place empty. 
Would you keep me long ? " 

"Just the time to wet mythroat, so that the words will come out easier." 

" And we shall come back here? ' 
"Of course." 

"Come along, then, quick." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 101 

The seedsman took up his hat, the clerk put on his cap and shut the 
door. They went downstairs. 

" Do you know of a snug nook ? " asked Jean-Baptiste Palaiseau. 

"Yes, down here, in the Rue Chanoinesse ; a place where I sha 'n't be 
seen, and from which I can see whether master arrives." 

" Oh, then he'll come this way ? " 

" Of course ; he always goes in by the private entrance." 

" Private entrance ? where ? " cried the seedsman quickly. 

" Why, haven't you read the circular ? " said the humpback, with a certain 
mistrust. 

" Yes, but I didn't notice it — You were saying that this entrance — ? " 

"Is the master's, and has nothing to do with anyone else. But let's 
hurry, if we're going to have anything to drink," said the humpback, 
drily. " I've got my business, too, and I don't want to lose my time." 

" What will you drink ! Wine, rum, cognac ? " 

"A small glass of dry champagne." 

" Waiter, two ' drys.' " 

" Two ' drys ! ' " Goodness knows what mixture the wine merchant 
dignified with this name. But it was alcohol, at any rate. That is the 
principal thing for the consumer. The humpback trembled as he saw the 
golden liquor poured out. 

" Your health," said Jean-Baptiste Palaiseu. 

"Yours." 

" Shall we have another ? " 

"Well, you see, I'mnot used to it, " he said : "I'm afraid it might upset me. " 

"Nonsense. Two for luck. Besides, we have to talk business before we 
drink." 

"Yes, we have to talk business," repeated the humpback, whose eyes 
glistened. 

" Let's sit down then," continued Palaiseau, " as you'll see when your 
master comes. Waiter, two more ' drys. ' " 

"Yes, I shall see my master— that's true. Waiter, two more ■ drys. ' " 

" That'll be four ; have a care ! " said the seedsman with his good-natured 
laugh. 

"How four?" 

"Yes, two I ordered and two you ordered. Well, never mind, we can 
drink 'em." 

" Yes, we'll drink them," said the humpback, upon whom the first glass 
had already had an effect. 

The waiter brought the four glasses. Ths humpback gulped his down 
eagerly. His little eyes shone like two lanterns. 

"It's healthy this cold weather," said Palaiseau. "Now, mister 
clerk, shall I tell you my business ? " 

" Yes, go on, I'm listening. — You were saying — " 

" I was saying that I was threatened with a lawsuit in consequence of 
a delivery I made." 

"But you were speaking of your cousin," muttered the humpback, 
whose face was growing purple. 

" Exactly so, it was him that got me the custom of the man who's going 
to law with me, a nobleman, a count." 

"Ah ! a count, certainly—" 

"This count, who passes for being very rich— I say, won't you have 
another glass ? " 



102 DISPATCH AND SBOREOT. 

"No, thanks." 

" Do, just a small cognac. Waiter, two cognacs, and — leave us the bottle." 

The two drank again. The seedsman continued : 

"Well, I was saying that my customer, M. le comte de Pringy — ." He 
looked keenly at the humpback. The latter started. 

" The Comte de Pringy," he muttered in a thick voice, " a good fellow, he 
is— he doesn't come now, more's the pity." 

"Do you know him, then ? " asked the seedsman eagerly. 

"Me, no — that is to say — the master's — playing him — a trick- he has 
told him — But what do you want to know for, eh ? " 

" Why, I have to do with the count." 

"The count — yes, he pays well, he does — he's a good fellow — I'll tell 
him everything." 

" What ? what have you got to tell him, then ? " 

"That he's been tricked ; that my master - Look here, betwesn us two, 
the master's a scoundrel," said the humpback, who was now quite drunk. 

"Yes, I know that." 

"You know it. I know it, too. But you, you've no proofs — I have, 
proofs, look you ; your health, my dear what's your name — Machin, 
whatever is your name ? " 

" Palaiseau. But you were saying that these proofs — " 

" Everything ! — I have every thing! " said the humpback, with an emphatic 
gesture. "Everything! — I've looked, do you see — through the hole — a 
hole I made— in the wall. — He doesn't know. I've seen the cupboard." 

" What cupboard ? Go on, speak out ! " 

The humpback began to laugh. 

" Ha, ha, ha ! you'd like to know, Beloiseau — ha, ha, ha ! I'm sharper 
than you — I sha'n't tell you." 

" Have another glass with me." 

' ' No, I've drunk enough. When I drink, I talk too much, and you'll 
rob me of my fortune. For I shall make a fortune out of it, do you hear, 
my friend — Bagneux — for you are my friend, eh ? what's your name ? '' 

" Sapristi! I've given him too much," said Fauvette angrily to himself, 
for it was he who, disguised as a seedsman, had gone to the inquiry-agent's 
to have a look round and question the clerk. " Well, mister clerk, what 
cupboard were you talking about, eh ? " 

"Don't shake me like that," said the humpback, still laughing, " it con- 
fuses my ideas. And don't keep going round, Anthony, it makes me go 
round too. I've got a headache, Montrouge — I'm falling — hold me up, 
Chatillon." Slipping from his chair, the humpback sank into a heap under 
the table. 

"There," said Fauvette, "another chance gone. I shall get nothing 
more out of him. " 

XXIX. 

IN WHICH THE CHIEF OF POLICE SEES CLEARLY. 

Without the loss of a moment Fauvette went back to tell his chief what he 
had learnt. 

"So," said the latter reflectively, "this Loyal-Francceur has a cupboard 
in which we should, no doubt, discover something useful. Goodness ! what 
family secrets must be there, how many mysteries of which we might dis 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



103 



cover the solution, how many crimes, unexplained hitherto, about which we 
should at last know the truth ! " 

He rested his head in his hands and began to reflect. Fauvette looked 
at him in silence. 

"Oh !" he continued, "if one only had one's choice ; if one could, 
knowing it was impossible to do wrong, lay hands on all this lot and make 
a thorough search in their dens ! But no, they are tradesmen ; they are 
licensed ; the law protects them, as it protects thieving bankers and 
poisoners who are set up in shops. It's commerce ; they are sacred." 

" Then, sir," said Fauvette, timidly, " there's nothing for us to do ? " 

" What can I do ? And yet, something must be done ; could we not bribe 
the hump-back who told you this ? " 

"I don't think so. Being drunk, he talked. He will be on his guard 
now." 

" And Loyal-Francceur's assistants ? " 

"Oh. we could get at them more easily, for the poor wretches hardly 
earn enough to live on. I used to know one of the same kidney. A poor 
trade ! The best of them doesn't earn more than five francs a day. And, 
for that, they must be on foot from morning to night. There are some that 
only get four and a half, and even four francs, and those are the ones that 
have to do the most. And, besides that, they are forbidden to take a 'bus, 
except at their own expense, and the sack if they don't succeed in what 
they are ordered to do. When I tell you — you'll think it odd, sir— that 
the one I knew, who was ordered to get information about a girl that a 
married man had seduced, found that his best plan was to become the lover 
of the girl's mother, in order to get the best information — " 

" Ha, ha ; well, he succeeded, at any rate ? " 

" The mother was an old hag of forty-eight, a tippler, and stinking of 
tobacco a mile off It was a heavy sacrifice. Well, after having triumphed 
over her virtue, which was not a very difficult task, and not a very agree- 
able one, my friend learnt with grief that she had not seen her daughter 
for two years." 

" Poor fellow ! " said the chief of police. 

" Yes, you may say so ; for his master kicked him out, without taking 
into consideration the herculean task he had laid upon himself. Look 
hei - e, sir, I'm devoted to you, and to the service as well, but, upon my 
word, if you asked that of me, I should refuse ! " 

" All right, Fauvette, I sha'n't go as far as that," said the chief of police, 
laughing. "But, about these men, we ought easily to win them over to 
our interests. " 

" Of course ; but unfortunately they know nothing. Their master meets 
them in some crib where you must know the password. No fear of him 
admitting them into his sanctuary. And, besides, for the most part of 
their time, they are working without knowing the aim of the affair, each 
one contributing his portion, and the chief stringing it all together — like 
here, of course, except that they are treated worse. They are our rivals, 
these agents, sir. There are some of them who have cards printed almost 
like ours, and who give themselves out as detectives to the people they 
want to work on, and the next day the papers are down on us for it." 

" And we are obliged to keep our mouths shut ; yes, my poor Fauvette, 
I know all about it. When I ask for an inquiry I am told by my superiors 
that the storm had best be allowed to blow over." 

"It's hard." 



104 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" Yes, it's hard. But a man must bear anything for duty's sake, and, 
after all, his honoui and conscience are safe, and that's something. But 
we've talked enough, Fauvette ; we must act." 

"How?" 

" How ? I know not. But I shall find out. Before we go any further, I 
must see the magistrate." 

The next day, at four o'clock, he went to the Palais. M. Dauffin was 
just in the act of submitting his prisoner to a fresh examination. During 
the five days that Pringy had been in prison, he had changed wonderfully. 
However confident he had remained of the infallibility of the law, he had 
had to undergo some severe trials. When, transferred from the Dep6t to 
Mazas, he had been forced to put on the prison dress, his whole being had 
revolted ; he had almost made up his mind to struggle, to resist. When, 
on the following day, he had had to get into " Black Maria ; " when, from 
this degrading vehicle, he had had to enter that sewer known as the 
" mouse-trap," where the prisoners await their turn to be examined, each 
stage of this series of tortures had hollowed out a wrinkle on his face. It 
was in a state of depression and despair that he appeared before the 
magistrate. M. Dauffin, for his part, looked complacently on this atone- 
ment. He saw in it the all-powerful action of the law on a conscience 
overcome with remorse ; and he looked forward to an early and full 
confession. On the contrary, weary of torture, poor Pringy had determined 
to say no more. 

" So," said M. Dauffin, solemnly, for the hundredth time ; " so, prisoner, 
you persist in your denial ? ''■ 

"Yes, sir." 

"It is a deplorable plan, which I should advise you to abandon. A 
frank and open confession would be favourably looked upon. Well, what 
say you ? " 

"Nothing, sir." 

" Nothing, what depravity ! I could understand it in a peasant without 
the benefits of education. But a man of the world, a nobleman, an old 
officer. Come, will you not reconsider it ? " 

Pringy was silent. 

" Eh ? What have you to say ? Come." 

" Nothing, absolutely nothing." 

" Not even what has become of Mademoiselle de Rieumes ? " 

" I do not know." 

" And yet, this letter, written by you to the father ; for you did write 
it?" 

"Certainly." 

" Well, in it you promised, in consideration of a large sum of money, to 
restore Mademoiselle de Rieumes to her father. " 

" I had certain means to bring it about." 

"Will you not state those means ? " 

"No." 

"But you are ruining yourself, wretched man !" ciied the magistrate, 
forsaking the majestic dignity which was usual with him. " You are heap- 
ing on your head all the terrors of the law." 

" I care not." 

M. Dauffin looked at his clerk, who shrugged his shoulders. At that 
moment there was a knock at the door. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 105 

" The chief of police wants to speak to you immediately, sir." 

" Show him in." 

The chief of police entered, bowed to the magistrate, and looked with 
interest at poor Pringy, who had risen on his arrival. 

" I have something of importance to tell you," he said, in a whisper. 

" About what case ? " 

"This one." 

"Step this way." 

Each examining magistrate's room possesses, adjoining and communicat- 
ing with the principal apartment, a little room with a separate egress. It 
serves to receive anyone who has no connection with the case which is in 
progress, an important witness who does not wish to be seen by the others, 
articles to be brought forward as evidence, etc. It was into this room that 
M. Dauffin showed the chief of police. The latter informed him of all that 
Fauvette had learnt, and explained to him his deductions and ideas. The 
magistrate was not convinced. 

" So," said he, " you think that the Comte de Pringy — " 

"Is only an involuntary instrument in the hands of an inquiry-agent who 
is acting, in his turn, on behalf of some powerful individual. " 

" And we can't arrest these people ? " 

" No. We have no proof. But, if we release Pringy, if, placed at 
temporary liberty, we have him watched by good detectives, perhaps we 
should arrive at something. " 

" But it would be difficult to release him now." 

" Why, are you not free to — " 

"Certainly, but—" 

A loud uproar interrupted the magistrate. This uproar proceeded from 
the public corridor. The chief of police opened the door and saw a man 
with his clothes in disorder struggling in the midst of the policemen and 
door-keepers, who were trying to drag him away. 

"I tell you I must speak to the chief of police," cried the man. " It's a 
serious question, an important revelation. Tell him I'm Paul Clairac. " 

"Paul Clairac!" cried the chief of police; "stop, men; show that 
gentleman in here. Quick ! " 



XXX. 

AN UNEXPECTED VISIT. 

How had Paul Clairac, whom we left with Dolores, completely fallen 
under the charm of his former mistress, come there ? The fact merits an 
explanation. We saw the young artist, fascinated, overcome, struggling 
vainly against this woman's influence, and allowing himself to be subjugated 
by this strange influence or fascination. It was no longer the fierce, un- 
bridled, passionate love that he had felt at Rome and Naples ; it was an 
inexplicable charm from which he had not had the power to tear himself. 
When he awoke the next morning he reproached himself for his weakness. 
He was horrified at his baseness ; he loved Jeanne, he loved her with the 
whole strength of his soul ; he knew her to be in peril, and he remained 
there, inactive ; he had gone to sleep in the arms of this Circe, Oh ! cow- 
ard ! coward ! traitor ! He had tried to get up, to leave the house ; but an 
incomprehensible weakness, an irresistible langour had prevented him. 



106 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

And then she had returned, coaxing, caressing, suppliant ; he had not dared 
to break this heart which poured itself out to him. She had asked his for- 
giveness, had talked to him of Jeanne, of Jeanne whom she wished to help 
him to find, of Jeanne in whose favour she would retire when it was neces- 
sary, entreating him in return to grant her the few hours of happiness and 
love which she had yet to enjoy on earth. 

And he had yielded. Then, with that entrancing smile which so well 
became her coral lips, Dolores had given him a cordial, and all at once a 
strength unknown before had come upon him ; he seemed, to be imbued with 
new life, and at the same time his troubled mind had forgotten the past, 
the terrible drama, the loss of Jeanne, the anguish, everything, to think no 
more but of the present, of joy, of love, of transport. To this intoxication 
had succeeded a fearful torpor, a heavy sleep, besotted like that proceeding 
from opium. 

He slept. Leaning on her elbow, Dolores gazed at him, enwrapping him 
in a look full of jealous tenderness. 

" Jeanne, Jeanne," he murmured. 

"Oh ! for ever that name, that woman ! My God, why cannot I crush 
her, so that he should forget her for ever ? " 

The door opened. Mamma, the faithful negress, crept up to Dolores. 

' ' What is it, Mamma ? " said the princess severely. " I gave orders that 
no one should come in here without my permission. " 

" Mistress, there's a gentleman downstairs. He says he knows you are 
here, and that you must see him." 

" Was he not told that I was away ? " 

" Yes, but he gave me a letter, telling me to let you have it." 

" And the letter ? " 

"Here it is." 

The negress held out an envelope. Dolores quickly tore it open and 
uttered a terrible cry. The envelope contained a card only, but this card 
was as follows : Pedrillo Moreno de San-Fernando y Galiano. Lieutenant- 
General in the Spanish Service. With these three words in pencil: "An 
affair of the utmost importance." 

" What is the matter? " asked Paul, raising himself up in bed. 

"Nothing, nothing, dear. Only business. I shall be back in two 
minutes." 

Dragging the negress into the next room, she asked in a whisper : 

" Who brought this ? " 

" Mistress, I told you ; a gentleman who is downstairs with the porter, 
and who won't go away." 

" Go and fetch him quickly, and without noise. Tell him to come up. 
No, show him into the conservatory ; I'll come down ; tell him I'll come 
down directly." 

The negress left the room. Dolores went into Paul's room. He was 
sleeping peacefully. She imprinted a kiss on his forehead. He did not 
move. She left the room and went down a private staircase which led 
directly to the grand conservatory. This conservatory she had had arranged 
and decorated especially for Paul ; she had made a veritable winter garden 
of it, where, in the midst of the rarest plants, the balmy and languishing 
scents of the tropics, beneath an always uniform temperature, she looked 
forward to passing long and rapturous hours with her lover. She hurried 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 107 

thither, anxious and trembling. What had happened? Had Loyal- 
Francceur deceived her? Pedrillo was not dead, or was it his ghost that 
had left the grave ? Before opening the door, which was one large sheet 
of plate glass, she looked. A tall man was standing with his back to her, 
looking at the flowers. He wore a frock-coat and was holding his hat in 
his hand. In this way she was able to see his black, curly hair. Was it 
really Pedrillo ? Dolores shuddered. She thought of flight. But hers was 
a brave and manly nature. She threw the door open sharply, and entered. 
The man turned round. Rage seized the young woman. Her visitor was 
none other than M. Loyal-Francoeur ! 

" You ! you ! " she cried. " What comedy are you playing, and by what 
right do you come here ? " 

"Why, my little lady," replied the inquiry-agent in a bantering voice, 
" you know the famous adage : ' If the mountain won't come to Mahomet, 
Mahomet must go to the mountain ; ' the idea is none the worse for having 
been started by a Mussulman. You have forgotten me, I have come to re- 
mind you of myself." 

She crushed him with a look of sovereign disdain. " Did I not pay you 
for what you did ? " she said in a voice of suppressed rage ; "now I know 
you no longer, I don't want to know you ; and I insist above all that the 
name under which you announced yourself here shall not be pronounced 
between us." 

"Oh," said Loyal-Francceur, who was not disconcerted, "the name 
upsets you, then? Upon my word, one might think that it occasions 
regret. Ha, ha, ha, it's no one's now, is it ? Why should I hesitate to 
adopt it ? " 

" Enough, this interview has lasted long enough. Go ! " 

" Oh, no, my pretty one. When a woman is bound to a man by — you 
know what — she has not the right to order him about thus." 

" Will you go, wretch? " 

" That's it, abuse now. Ah ! my dear friend, don't upset yourself like 
this ; we have to talk long and seriously, and you will need all your calm- 
ness." 

" I have paid you, I tell you," shouted Dolores, beside herself with fury. 
"Go, or else—" 

" Or else ? " 

Like a furious tigress, she sprang on him, her dagger raised. 

He was watching her. Self-possessed and still scornful, he seized her 
wrist and rendered her powerless. 

"Don't let's play that game," said he, "you must know that I've taken 
my precautions. If you had the misfortune to kill me, you would be lost. 
Information, with proofs, would be given to the authorities before two 
hours had passed, and your pretty head would run a great risk of receiving 
attentions at M. Deibler's hands." 

Dolores sank shivering on a seat. 

"Let's talk like good friends — accomplices," continued Loyal-Francceur, 
laying stress on the last word. " You loved, you still love, M. Paul 
Clairac ; you are quite right, he is a fine fellow who has everything 
necessary to please — a wife. But he wanted to marry. That upset your 
plans, for his betrothed was young and pretty, oh ! not so pretty as you, I 
know ; but, at any rate, he liked her." 

" What are you driving at? " murmured Dolores. 

" You will see. You wanted to prevent this marriage. You applied to 



108 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

a certain Loyai-Francoeur, the director of an agency, No. 13, Rue dea 
Chantres, Despatch and Secrecy. In consideration of a few wretched thousan d- 
franc notes — a trifle for you — I broke off the marriage, the girl disappeared, 
leaving nothing behind her but dishonour and shame. The lover, wounded, 
feeble, and rendered pliable and confiding, fell into your power. You 
have got back your property, you have gained your object—" 

" Well, what is that to you ? Did I not pay you ? " 

' ' Wait. Breaking off the marriage was nothing. That's a trifle to the 
firm of Loyal-Francoeur, and if ever divorce is re-established, it will furnish 
work for the lawyers. But there was an obstacle, a rock, a stumbling- 
block. A certain Pedrillo, who had been for a long time associated with 
your destinies, who knew too many secrets, who could with one word have 
ruined you. " 

" Cut it short. What do you want ? : ' 

" I like to make things clear. There's no one listening, is there? We 
can talk to one another openly ? Well, this Pedrillo was in your way — as 
I am at the present moment — you wanted to rid yourself of him — as you 
would give a good deal to rid yourself of me, eh ? — be frank." 

Dolores did not reply. 

" Silence is equivalent to consent, or rather admission. But — I may as 
well tell you at once — I am not so easily got rid of as your — friend. He 
was a night-bird, a rake, a gambler. I am a respectable man, I pay my 
way and have friends, to whom I have confided certain papers." 

" What is all this to me ? " said Dolores faintly. 

"This : that if you took it into your head to close my mouth, a letter — 
deposited in a safe place — would inform the authorities that I had been 
murdered in your house. I told you this just now, but good things will bear 
repetition." 

" Come, what do you want? What is your object ? " asked the princess 
abruptly. 

" You want me to teli you at once. Be it so. Well, I want five 
hundred thousand francs." 

" Five hundred thousand francs I You are mad." 

"Not at all. I, too, had drawn a picture for myself, in which I had re- 
tired to a little country town, rich, honoured, respected. Your support 
counted for a great deal in this picture, for I reckoned on you to realise it. 
But you try to trick me. You hide yourself, I have to seek subterfuges to 
get into your house. I object to this, madame, and I say to you : Be- 
ware ! " 

"Beware? And of what ?" said Dolores slowly, casting on the inquiry 
agent a look full of the most withering scorn. 

" Of what ! Well, you have plenty of cheek, you have. Well, I prefer 
it so, the struggle will be more exciting. Of what? Why, of this, my 
dear lady, that all Pedrillo's papers, all, you understand, all the papers for 
the sake of which you did not shrink from crime, are in my possession, and 
it is on that account that I intend to deal with you, not as an equal, but 
as a slave ! " 

"Oh ! wretch! traitor!" 

"Wretch ! traitor ! — What shall I say, then, of you, Dolores, the street- 
singer, Dolores the frequenter of the squares, arrived at fortune through 
debauchery and crime, associate of a thief ; who, to screen your past life, 
murdered your accomplice, and who are about to allow an innocent man to 
suffer for that murder ; you who in order to win back a favoured lover have 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



109 



torn an innocent child from her parents ; you who at the present moment — I 
know it — have in your house the softened and effiminate object of your 
passion, Paul Clairac, to whom I might tell everything, and who would 
despise you as an infamous creature." 

" Silence, wretch, silence ! " 

" Pay for my silence, then, if you want me to keep quiet." 

" Speak ; how much do you want ? " 

The agent was about to reply. He had not time. 

"It is needless, madame," said the hoarse voice of Paul Clairac, who 
appeared, staggering and pallid, at the door of the conservatory; "it is 
needless, I have heard all ! " 

XXXI. 

HOW A ZINGABA LOVES. 

' ! Paul ! " cried the young woman, desperately. 

" The artist ! " exclaimed the agent, aghast. 

"I have been there for several minutes," continued Paul Clairac, in a 
harsh voice; "uneasy at not seeing you, I got up. I heard loud voices 
and I ran to interpose, to defend you, or at least to call for help if any 
danger threatened you ; I was there ! and I know what you are, I know 
into what abyss of shame I have been plunged. " 

"Paul!" repeated Dolores, her eyes beseeching, her hands stretched 
out towards the young man. 

" I heard that a murder has been committed by you, madame, in concert 
with this man. I heard that she whom I loved, the unfortunate and spot- 
less Jeanne de Rieumes. has been slandered by your orders, torn from her 
family by you. I heard finally the horrible part I myself have been play- 
ing, I, who since, I do not know how long, have been living in your house, 
at your expense, at the expense of a murderess and a prostitute." 

1 ' Paul ! murmured Dolores, for the third time, throwing herself at 
Clairac's feet, " Paul, mercy ! — pity ! " 

"Oh ! have no fear, madame," said Clairac, mistaking the meaning of 
the words, and thinking that Dolores was beseeching him not to betray 
her. "Have no fear. Before informing the police of what you are and of 
what you have done, I will allow you time to escape. You will leave this 
country, which, by the way, is not yours. And then," he added bitterly, 
"before having the right to say a word, must I not pay you for your care 
and cordial hospitality ? Allow me, then, to go, madame ; I must go to 
Paris and procure money. Oh ! have no fear, I have friends, I will sell 
my pictures, all that I possess, but you shall be liberally repaid." 

He said this in a voice of bitter sarcasm and each word fell like a drop of 
molten lead on Dolores' heart, prostrate before him, crushed beneath the 
weight of grief and shame. 

" Ah ! " said she, in a voice broken by sobs, "it is not life I ask, Paul 
when I cry to you for mercy, when I implore pity. Life ! What is it to 
me ? Do you think I would have it without love, do you think I could 
bear it, beneath your scorn ? No, you do not understand me, or rather 
you feign not to understand me. What I ask for, Paul, what I ask 
of you, is not to overwhelm me with those terrible words which you do not 
feel in your heart, and which break my heart. What I wish, what I long 
for, is to justify myself." 



110 DISPATCH AND SECRKOY. 

"Justify yourself ? wretch ! " 

"Yes, justify myself. For, after all, do I recognise your foolish sus- 
ceptibilities, your idiotic delicacy? Do I belong to your bastard civilis- 
ation, to recognise its rules and subtleties ? Away with you ! — I'm not a 
patrician, see you — I'm not one of your aristocratic dolls, cold, calculating, 
without energy and without heart. I am a child of the sun and of the 
open air, a child of liberty, born under the canopy of heaven, in the fields. 
— My mother was Spanish and my father a gipsy. I have in me the hot 
blood of those children of Egypt, whom no one has ever tamed, and this 
•blood cries out to me : Love ! love ! live for love and by love ! " 

" Silence ! silence ! " murmured Paul, who, at the enthusiasm of this 
magnificent creature, felt himself carried away by the feelings of an artist, 
and had difficulty in overcoming his admiration. 

"Silence? And why? Before the judges, before the whole world, I 
will repeat what I have said to you. Woman is born to love and owes to 
love her whole existence. That is what the old gipsies of my tribe said to 
me, when they saw me growing up handsome and strong. ' You will love, 
and your love will be stained with blood ; you have the terrible mark on 
your forehead.' I thought I had found that love, when at the age of 
fifteen a child of my race, Pedrillo asked me to be his wife — " 

"Pedrillo V 

"Yes, Pedrillo ; the ancients united us, united us for five years. But, 
before those five years had elapsed, I had felt that my husband was not the 
man of whom my ardent soul had dreamt. I, Dolores, the Bohemian, 
Dolores the dancer, Dolores the street-girl, won a fortune, and that fortune 
I shared with him, in order that he should no longer demand from me what 
our marriage law granted him, the law which we must all obey, we, the 
children of the Sun. I made him rich, count, duke, I obtained orders and 
crosses for him, real crosses, honoured crosses ; I got him a grade, epaulettes 
and lace, but I wished to win back my libertv, the liberty of my 
heart." 

" But how ? by what means ? " 

" What is that to you ? one does not ask the ingot of pure gold with what 
base earth its vein-stone was soiled. All heads bowed before me. I had 
a new love and a heart without spot to bring to him whom I should love. 
This'man I met one day. It was you. Ah' ! you remember, Paul, what 
transports and what intoxication marked the first days of our passion. 
You were alarmed and fled, I tried to get you back, but I saw that my 
love was burdensome to you and I gave you back your liberty. Ah ! I had 
reckoned without the Bohemian's blood which courses through my veins ; 
when I learnt that you were going to be married, when I said to myself 
that another would be yours, that you would be hers ; when I thought that 
she would possess those treasures of love that you refused me — Ah ! no ! I 
could not bear that, I could not allow it to happen. " 

Speaking thus, Dolores had gradually raised herself up. She was no 
longer the suppliant woman of a short time back, she was the mistress, the 
offended queen claiming back her rank, she was the lover demanding her 
love, the tigress ready to throw herself on her prey. She was beautiful, 
dreadfully, terribly beautiful. Her ebon hair flowing down over her 
shoulders, her eyes glittering with a cruel flame, her lips contracted, her 
hands clenched convulsively, as if the nails were about to shoot from her 
fingers, to tear to pieces what was before her. Paul looked at her, terri- 
fied. Loyal-Francceur, who had been awaiting the conclusion of what he 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. Ill 

caller! "the crisis," and had leant silently against an orange-tree, felt the 
fascination upon him and dared not move. 

" At this thought I became mad. You, you, another's ! No. That 
you should be separated from me, that I should be forced to see you no 
longer except by chance in the street, as a stranger, was horrible enough, 
but I bore it ; but to see you loved, loving, happy with another ! Ah ! 
rather tear out her heart with my nails and eat it ! " 

"Enough ! silence ! "murmured Paul. 

" My first idea," continued Dolores, without heeding him, " my first idea 
was to go to the De Rieumes' house, to see this girl and stab her to death. 
But you would have grieved, and I did not want to see you grieve for 
another. Then I found a man who pointed out to me a means to displace 
her. We bought a child of its girl-mother and paid people to say that this 
child was hers whom you loved. We told you it, in order that, scorn and 
anger killing your love, you should abandon the marriage which was to 
make me miserable." 

" Then, it is true, it was you ? " 

' ' Pedrillo, terrified, blamed me, threatened me. I made away with 
Pedrillo. He owed me twenty years of wealth and pleasure. I have no 
remorse. And, besides, it was for you. " 

" It is fearful, dreadful!" 

" I won you back, won you at the price of so much labour and so many 
crimes. And now you know all, you despise and shun me. Kill me, Paul ! 
But this man, who came to ruin my happiness, this wretch who, for the 
sake of a few bank-notes which I would not have haggled over, breathed 
upon my dream and dissipated it like smoke, kill him first, or rather hand 
him over to the law ; I shall be avenged. I shall die content. " 

" Why, she's mad ! " cried Loyal-Francceur, suddenly roused from his 
ecstasy by this unexpected conclusion. 

" Silence ! " said Paul, casting a withering glance on the agent. "And 
it was to crown all these crimes, madame, that you carried me offunconscious, 
brought me here, far from Paris, into a foreign land — " 

" A foreign land, far from Paris ! " said Loyal-Francceur. " Not a bit of 
it. You are in the heart of Paris, my dear sir, in the Avenue Montaigne. " 

"Ah! you have deceived me to the end !" cried Paul. "I must not 
remain here a moment longer. " 

He made for the street door. 

" He is going to betray us ! " shouted Loyal-Francceur. 

" I ought to do so, but I consent to say nothing, at least until you are in 
a place of safety, on the condition that you restore my betrothed to me. 
Where is Jeanne ? " 

"Alas ! " began the inquiry -agent. 

" Speak, wretch, speak ! Why conceal her any longer?" 

"I know absolutely nothing of her," said Loyal-Francosur piteously, 
" she — she escaped." 

" Liar ! " cried Paul. " Ah ! I shall know how to make you speak ! " 

And he seized the agent by the throat. The latter, stronger than he, 
unloosed himself and, drawing a loaded revolver from his pocket, pointed it 
at Clairac's breast. He was about to press the trigger when, bounding like a 
tigress, Dolores sprang forward and seized the weapon in both hands. It 
went off. Struck full on the breast, Dolores fell. In spite of himself, 
Paul bent over her, she was dying. With a convulsive movement Dolores 
drew Paul towards her and pressed his lips on hers. 



112 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" I die for thee," she murmured, — "forgive me." 

At the sound of the report the gardener, Mamma the negress, and the 
porter had rushed to the spot. They found Paul supporting the dying 
Dolores in his arms. Loyal-Francoeur had disappeared. 



XXXII. 

A CHANGE. 

Horrified at what he had done, Loyal-Francoeur had at once turned his 
attention to flight. He was fortunate in having left the house before the 
police arrived. Once in the street, in the open air, he recovered a little 
self-possession. Arranging his clothes, which had been disordered during 
the short struggle which he had had with Paul Clairac, he began to reflect 
on his position as he walked down the Champs-Elysees. What was he to 
do 1 There was no mistake now. Paul Clairac knew all and would tell 
everything to the police commissary who would be summoned to Dolores. 
The latter, if she were not dead, would confirm the accuser's words. In 
any case, in default of that, the murder which he had just committed 
would alone suffice to have him arrested, and, once arrested, he had every- 
thing to fear from an investigation. He must fly, but whither ? The 
omnibus from the Porte-Maillot to the H6tel-de-Ville was passing at full 
trot. Faithful to his habits, M. Loyal-Francoeur clambered up on to the top, 
where, thanks be to the cold, he found himself alone and began to form his 
plana. It is to be supposed that he succeeded, for when the omnibus 
stopped at the corner of the Avenue Victoria the inquiry-agent was wearing 
his evil smile. He got down hastily and went to the Rue Taille-Pain, to 
hia friend Madame Honore Broussel's. 



Paul Clairac, leaving Dolores to the care of the servants, had gone out to 
try to overtake and have the assassin arrested. He considered that this 
was of the most pressing importance, for, Loyal-Francceur once under lock 
and key, the commissary of police would have time to prosecute his 
inquiry. Unfortunately the inquiry-agent had got a start, and whilst Paul 
was looking for him in every direction he was quietly escaping or the top of 
an omnibus. Paul saw that he was wasting precious time. He entered 
the commissary's office at the Palais de l'lndustrie and in a few words 
related what had happened, confining himself to the late crime, and not 
entering into previous details. However, he thought it right to mention 
the murder of Pedrillo de San-Fernando. 

" Oh, the affair for which the Comte de Pringy was arrested," said the 

cretary, " M. DaufEn has that case in hand." 

' ' M. Dauffin ? Where shall I find him ? " 

"At the Palais, of course, second floor. No. —There, I can't remember, 
you must ask the guard or doorkeeper. " 

Clairac rushed to the Palais. All this had taken time, and it was on 
that fact that Loyal-Francceur had reckoned in preparing his plan of defence. 
Paul Clairac's arrival, the account which he gave of the terrible scene 
which he had just witnessed, in which he had even been an actor, produced 
a startling effect on Dauffin. What ! this minute inquiry, this precise 
evidence, these prolonged examinations, all crumbled away like a badly- 



DISPATCH AND SECREC5\ 



113 



built house at the first breath of the storm. He could not help venturing 
on a protest. 

"But, sir, are you quite certain of all this ? " he asked with a kind of 
terror. "It is very serious, very serious — " 

"Do you think that I should trifle with such serious matters ?" cried 
Paul, indignant at this doubt. 

" I am rather afraid that he is mad," whispered the magistrate in the 
chief of police's ear. 

"No, for I myself came here, as I told you, with the conviction that this 
Loyal-Francceur had played the principal part in this affair, and what this 
young man tells us, only strengthens my opinion. " 

" Then we were about to hang an innocent man ? " 

" Unfortunately, yes ; that does happen occasionally." 

" Then the prestige of the law is done for ! " 

' ' Oh, not at all. It is the exception. Besides, you see we have been 
interrupted by circumstances. " 

"No matter, it is horrible. What do you think is best to be done ? " 

" I ? " said the chief of police, "nothing, sir. It is for you to decide." 

"But yet— " 

"Very well, I should begin by releasing, temporarily at least, the present 
prisoner, and I should not lose a moment in pursuing the other man, the 
real murderer, who during the time we are wasting here in discussion will 
possibly have gained the frontier." 

"You are right," cried M. Dauffin. "His discharge, quick." He rushed 
into his room and gave the necessary orders to his clerk, who nearly had a 
fit from surprise. Then, as if to justify what he had done, he said in the 
emphatic voice which was usual with him : 

" I regret, M. de Pringy, the severity with which appearances have 
obliged me to treat you. But justice, you see, is never wrong, and 
we know now the author of all these mysterious misdeeds. We are about 
to issue orders for the immediate arrest of the inquiry-agent, Loyal- 
Prancoeur." 

" Loyal-Franeceur !" cried Pringy, starting. "Ah! I should have 
known it. Fool that I am ! Will you allow me to go with you, sir ? I 
may be able to be of some use. " 

" Certainly," said the magistrate. 

• • 

At the time when these events were happening Gratien Voiville arrived 
at M. Manuel's. The reporter was more than ever disgusted. From all 
this case, upon which he had counted so much, and of which he hoped to 
be able to give an account which would startle Paris, he had as yet only 
derived material for two little paragraphs which had passed almost un- 
noticed. It was really not worth his while to perform these prodigies of 
divination. Every two or three days he went to see his friend the police 
commissary to know whether he might not at least publish his grand news, 
and he always obtained the same answer : 

" We must wait a little longer." 

"But still," he objected, " as the victim is known now ; as we are almost 
certain of knowing the murderer ; as this murderer is in prison, what reason 
have you why I should not speak ? " 

" I ? None. On the contrary, since I am to profit by the honour of the 
discovery. But the magistrate will not hear of it." 



U4 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" And what reason does lie give ? " 

" None Nevertheless, between ourselves, I may tell you that he is 
under a malign influence ; that of the chief of police." 

"Nonsense." . . , . Vl , . , T 

" Such is the case. Whilst giving him every credit for a real value, I am 
forced to confess that the chief has a singular mania. He is a dreamer, 
with ideas of his own. He says that appearances are often deceitful, that 
nothing is easier than to get on the wrong track, and that it is in the silence 
of his room that he discovers the truth about a case ; and by the aid of all 
these precious theories he has arrived at the conclusion that the Comte de 
Pringy is innocent." 
' ' But it's madness ! " 

" Perhaps so ; perhaps, too, it is only a scheme. You are not unaware 
that lately several cases have been bungled. The papers have been rather 
down on the Government about it. Now, the chief of police says that this 
happened because he was not informed sufficiently soon. ' The district 
commissary verifies the facts, ' he says ; ' he goes at it hammer and tongs, 
and when he has made a mess of it he comes to me. What can I do, when 
I can only go to work on hearsay ? If I had been informed on the first 
day, perhaps I should have discovered a clue. Now I am altogether off the 
track.' " 

" He is not altogether wrong. But how does that apply ? " 
' ' Well, in our case it was I who started ; it is quite natural that he 
should be anxious to prove to me that I have gone wrong." 
" But the magistrate should know." 

" The magistrate is convinced that Pringy is the culprit. But he doesn't 
like the pipers, and he profits by the other man's suggestions to conceal 
everything from me." 

" Devil take him ! And I've got my ' jam ' all ready. Just listen." 
The reporter began : 

"The police have just performed a clever feat, we had almost said a 
miracle, in discovering a crime which everything conspired to keep a secret, 
in arresting a murderer to whom his position and the minute precautions 
taken by him gave every chance of remaining unpunished." 
" Not bad, for a beginning," said the commissary, approvingly. 
"The discovery of the body follows, "continued the reporter; "I describe 
all the artifices resorted to by the murderer to render it unrecognisable and 
favour the idea of suicide. But, thanks to the intelligence, we had almost 
said instinct, of M. Manuel, the commissary of police — " 
" Oh, no, my dear fellow, not so much praise." 

" I continue by announcing the successive discoveries of the breaking off 
of the marriage and the abduction of Mademoiselle de Rieumes. Then I 
describe the duel — the duel of which I was a witness — and which I am 
obliged to keep a secret, for I gave my word — " 
" If you gave your word, how could you — ? " 

" I gave my word as a friend, not as a journalist. If the thing stood by 
itself, then I should never say a word about it. But directly it forms part 
of a whole — " 

" Very well reasoned," said M. Manuel, laughing. " Well ? " 
"Then I come to the accused's journeys, a little digression on this 
winter excursion ; then the letter demanding money, then some remarks 
upon which I am going to ask you to correct me if necessary. I think they 
are rather good. " ■ 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



115 



"All right, my dear fellow, all that's not lost. You shall put it in 
later on." 

" Later on, later on ! And if another paper cuts me out ? " 

" Well, I really daren't—" 

The office boy entered, showing in a telegraph messenger. M. Manuel took 
the telegram and uttered an exclamation in which astonishment was mixed 
with anger. 

" What's the matter ? " asked the reporter, mechanically. 

"Read, read yourself, my dear fellow." 

Gratien Voiville took the telegram and read it aloud : 

"Case completely changed. Comte de Pringy innocent. Have discov- 
ered connection. Await you at 13 Rue des Chantres. Signed : Chief of 
Police. " 

" It's enough to drive one to desperation ! " cried the commissary. 

" All my ' copy ' lost," said the reporter, dolefully. 

" Well, my dear fellow, do as I do. Bear your part in it, and let us both 
go to the Piue des Chantres; there's some better coming, perhaps." And 
off they went. 



XXXIII. 

TO THE ASSAULT ! 

"Now, we must not lose a minute, "said the chief of police, whilst M. 
Dauffin, completely adrift, was feverishly cramming his papers into a great 
leather bag. " Quick, let someone go and fetch Fauvette and Antheaume, 
and half a dozen men with them. You, sir, sign a warrant ; we may need 
one. You," turning to the clerk, "help his worship, come, time is passing, 
every second may help the man to escape." 

" Will you allow me to go with you ? " said Pringy, longing for his re- 
venge. 

" Certainly. You know the man ; you might be useful to us. Now, 
sir, are you ready, and can we start ? " 

At any other time M. Dauffin would have severely reminded the impetu- 
ous police officer of the distance which separated them, and the laws of the 
hierarchy. But, overcome by this " judicial error," and startled by the 
suddenness of the revelation which he had just heard, the poor magistrate 
behaved like one in a dream. He took his bag under his arm, put on his 
hat, and said in an heroic voice : 

"Forward !" 

The detectives, commanded by Antheaume and Fauvette, were waiting 
in the court-yard. They started ; the magistrate and the chief of police 
leading the way ; Pringy between the two inspectors who had arrested him. 

" Well it's all over, then ? " whispered Antheaume to the count. 

" Yes, my good man, and I hope shortly to acknowledge the politeness 
with which you treated me on my arrest." 

"And for the moment you are one of us ? " 

" Is it not the duty of every citizen to aid the law ? " 

" And, besides, you have your revenge to take on the fellow ? " 

"Silence!" ordered the chief; "here we are near the spot. One 
inute, to settle our plan of action ; Fauvette ! " 

Fauvette approached. 



116 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" You told me there were several exits, I think ? " 

" I was told of a private exit." 

"Where is it?" 

" I don't know. We must look. " 

' ' I know it. It is in the Rue Chanoinesse," said Pringy, coming forward. 
" I can point out the door to you, if you like." 

" Good. The exit must be guarded. Two men advance, to go with 
this gentleman." 

Two detectives stepped forward. 

"You will go to the spot which this gentleman will point out to you," 
said, in a brief tone, the chief of police, who had taken command of the 
expedition. 

" As for the password — wait. M. de Pringy, you have seen Loyal-Franc- 
osur, you know him, do you not ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

" Give us a short description of his appearance." 

" He is a little, old man, rather enfeebled, with a white wig and large 
goggles." 

" Pardon me," interrupted Antheaume, " I know him as being quite 
different, tall, upright, blue spectacles, black hair — " 

" I," said Fauvette, in his turn, " when I saw him he had red hair and 
green eyes, like a cat's. " 

" After this it is not easy to settle upon any description," said the chief 
of police. " In that case there is only one thing to be done : arrest any man 
who tries to pass. " 

" Very well, sir, it's understood," said the three detectives. 

They went off with the count, who posted them in the Rue Chauoinesse. 
The remainder of the little band waited in the Rue des Chantres. Pringy 
soon returned. 

" Do you know the way in here?" asked the chief of police. 

" Unfortunately, yes." 

" Very well, show us the way." 

They knocked. The court-yard door opened. On seeing the little 
band enter, the door-keeper, alarmed, tried to object. One of the detectives 
closed her mouth with a word : 

" The police," said he, in a whisper. 

The door-keeper, terrified, drew her head back behind the wicket. 

"The staircase which leads to Loyal-Prancoeur's, inquiry-agent?" said 
the inspector, in £ short voice. 

" Staircase B." 

" On the second floor, isn't it ? " 

" Yes, at the far end of the ' collidor.'" 

"Is he in?" 

" I couldn't say, gentlemen. We don't trouble ourselves about the goings 
out and comings in of the tenants. Here everyone is free. " 

" That's enough ! Silence ! " 

The door-keeper retreated crestfallen into her lodge. They mounted the 
staircase B., to the second floor. The gas was not lighted. One of the 
detectives took a dark lantern from under his cape, and lighted the way. 
They stopped before a little door, recognisable by the plate bearing the 
words : Disputed claims and recoveries. They rang. No one came. 
Loyal-Francoeur was not there. As for Isidore, the little humpbacked 
clerk was still sleeping soundly in the public-house where Fauvette had 



DISPATCH AND SECRECf. 117 

left him. They rang a second and a third time. Then, in a solemn voice, 
the chief of police pronounced the formal words : 

' ' In the name of the law, open ! " 

Not a movement. 

" Burst open the door," ordered the chief. 

Two detectives advanced. One of them, a giant, pi iced his back against 
the door, and, bending to his task, gave a heave. The other, taking a run, 
gave a vicious kick near the lock. The wood cracked. 

" In the name of the law, open ! " cried the chief, in a louder voice. 

A second kick caused the door to partially give way. They listened a 
moment. There seemed to be sounds within. 

" Go on, finish it," said the chief of police. 

Three or four men stepped forward together and united their efforts ; 
the door, violently torn from its hinges, fell with a crash. They were in 
the first room, the one in which the humpback received visitors. 

" We must begin by making a search here," said the magistrate. 

" No, this room is unimportant. The private room is there, next door," 
cried the count. " We shall find everything there. But, look, look, look ? " 

' ' What ? " cried the chief of police, the magistrate, Antheaume, and 
Fauvette, at the same moment. 

" Hide your lantern for a second — there ! look ! in that corner ! " 

And, in fact, through the wall appeared a tiny stream of light ; it was 
the celebrated hole made by the humpback to watch his master, and through 
which appeared a jet of light. Gasping, the chief of police clapped his 
eye to the hole. He saw a shadow moving. Loyal- Francceur was there. 

"We've caught the beast in his lair," said the chief of police. "Hurry 
up, my lads. M. de Pringy, how does this door open ? " 

" I don't know. Inside, probably." 

"That's a nuisance. But we can't expect to surprise our game. The 
noise that we made in coming in must have given him warning. If he flies 
by the other door, he can't fail to fall into the hands of our men. Let's go 
at it resolutely and quickly. Is that not your opinion, sir ? " 

" Yes, quick, quick," said M. Dauffin, much excited. 

" Wait a moment ; there are some candles on the chimney-piece ; light 
them. We want to see our way clearly. Has anyone of you a strong 
instrument ? 

" We can fetch one," said one of the detectives. 

" Run, quickly ; a hammer, a cold chisel, a pair of pincers." 

"I have all those at the station ; I had to use all my tools to-day. I'll 
go and fetch them. It's only a matter of five minutes." 

The detective started off at full speed. 

"Why didn't we think of that before?" said the chief, striking his 
forehead. " This delay may spoil all." 

"Nonsense, the house is surrounded." 

"Well, how can you tell? It seems to me that this negligence has 
spoilt our game." 

The detective came back with his box of tools. Three men, with 
hammers, pincers, and chisel, made a vigorous attack on the door. All at 
once, the light went out on the other side. 

"Hurry up ! hurry up ! " cried the chief of police. " He'll escape us." 

Their efforts were redoubled. But the door was strong, and lined inside 
with sheets of iron which turned the chisels. It was a formidable task, 
and one which demanded all the courage and persistence of the police. 



118 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

The chief and Pringy, with lights in their hands, bent impatiently over the 
workers. Fauvette had taken a fire-dog from the hearth, and was using it 
as a mallet to burst in the plates. Antheaume, his handcuffs ready, held 
himself prepared to rush forward at the first opportunity. A final blow 
from the hammer burst the lock. The door flew open. 

' ' Forward ! " cried the chief of police, rushing, candle in hand, into 
the dark room, with the whole party at his heels. 

An immense flame illuminated the darkness ; at the same moment, a 
terrible report was heard, and the assailants, hurled backwards with terrible 
force, fell one over the other. The fire caught a heap of papers piled up in 
the middle of the room, then spread to the curtains, and threatened to set 
a light to the whole house. 



XXXIV. 

m. loyal-francceur's little tricks. 

The chief of police was among the first to rise. His beard and hair 
were singed, but he had no other hurt. Seizing the candle which he had 
let fall and which had gone out, he went and lighted it at the heap of 
burning papers and looked around him. Each man felt and examined 
himself, wondering whether he was safe and sound or where his wound 
was. 

"Now," said the chief, "who among you is fit to work? We have a 
mission to fulfil here. We can count the wounded and dead afterwards." 

" Sacrebleu ! " said Pringy, " I think my wrist's sprained." 

" I'm all right." said Fauvette, " but what a crash ! " 

"I got a smack in the face," said Antheaume in his turn. " My nose is 
all swollen up. But that's nothing, I'm good for duty. Unfortunately, 
there appear to be some worse off than us. I alighted on someone who 
seems to have had almost enough of it. Hallo ! comrade, are you dead ? " 

" Mercy," replied a doleful voice ; "mercy, I'm a harmless man, don't 
make me responsible for this misunderstanding. " 

" What's he chattering about? Has the fright sent him off his head? 
Why," said he, looking closer, "it's the magistrate's clerk — Hi ! I say ! " 

"Ah, good gracious !" said M. Dauffin, who was also uninjured, "the 
poor man is out of his mind." 

"Mercy ! " groaned the poor clerk. Then, opening his eyes, he looked 
with a frightened stare at those around him, recognised the chief of 
police, the magistrate, and the detectives. His face changed. He rose, 
brandished his goose-quill with a warlike air and cried : " Where are they, 
the thieves, the wretches, the dogs, who fired the cannon at us ? " 

" The cannon ! " said Fauvette, who was busy stamping on the burning- 
papers, so as to prevent a fire. " The cannon ! not a bit of it, but a fine 
gas explosion." 

"That is true," remarked the chief of police. "But how did it 
happen ? " 

" A leak in the pipe, no doubt," said the magistrate. 

"That's impossible. It's not a quarter of an hour since there was a 
light here : the explosion would have taken place then. " 

" Wait a minute," cried Antheaume, examining one of the gas-jets which 



oroFATCH AND SECRECY. 



119 



were hanging twisted by the side of M. Loyal-Francceur's desk. " Look 
here, it's turned on." 

" And the other one too," said Fauvette. 

" No doubt about it," said the chief of police. " The wretch turned on 
both gas-jets before escaping. The gas filled the room, and when we came 
in with our candles the explosion took place. " 

"It's lucky we hurried over the job, otherwise it would have been 
much worse." 

_ "The villain ! if I could only get hold of him," cried the clerk, who, 
since he had satisfied himself that he was unhurt, had become quite belli- 
cose. 

" You will soon be able to have that pleasure, my dear sir," said Fau- 
vette, " for if he escaped by the other street, our men must have collared 
him," 

"That's true, by-the-bye," said the chief of police. "They've got him 
below. Fauvette, go and see what's going on. Monsieur de Pringy will 
show you the way." 

Fauvette went down the backstairs. Two minutes afterwards he came 
back, his face the picture of despair. 

" Well," asked the chief of police, " what's the matter now ? " 

" Oh ! the fools ! What do you think they told me ? " 

"Well, quick!" 

" That they have only seen a woman pass, and as they had only had 
orders to arrest 'the first man that passed,' they didn't think they had 
any right to arrest her." 

" Oh ! " cried the chief of police, "the wretch has escaped us again ! " 

" Your men are not very intelligent," observed M. Dauffin. 

"I know that. But how can I help it ? I want rough customers and 
they give me gendarmes, stout fellows, obedient to orders, but ruining the 
simplest case by excess of devotion. If only I had fifty trained men ! 
Well, the evil is done, it's no use lamenting it now. At least let's make a 
serious search. Here's a desk." 

" Empty, sir," said Antheaume. "While you were talking, I examined 
it ; all the drawers are open and have been emptied." 

" Pull them out. Some important document has, perhaps, slipped 
underneath or behind." 

" No fear of that, with these birds. They're more artful than we are." 

" Empty the pigeon-holes." 

They had to smash the padlocks. But to Pringy's great surprise, the 
majority of the cards were empty. The few documents that were found 
were put together to be examined later on. 

" And the cupboard. Fauvette, did not the humpback speak of a cup- 
board ? " 

" A secret cupboard, yes, sir." 

"Where is it?" 

" We'll sound the walls." 

They set to work to tap the walls. The search was not a long one. 
Under a picture which Fauvette lifted up, the woodwork gave out a hollow 
sound. They raised the tapestry. The door of the secret recess was not 
shut. They raised the candles to look ; the cupboard still contained a few 
wigs, one or two bundles of papers, a box containing prepared chalk, 
rouge, blue, black, sponges, curling-tongs, stumps and haresfeet. But this 
was all. The rest had been taken away, 



120 DISPATCH AND SKUiosov. 

"We shall find nothing," said the chief of police. " He has removed 
everything Ah ! those papers, what are they ? Unfasten the covering, 
Antheaume." 

Antheaume obeyed, and a mass of circulars appeared : 

No. 13 Rue dbs Chantees, 
2nd floor. 

DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

Loyal-Fbancceue and Co. 

Nephew of and successor to Tricoche, 
Confidential Agency. 

Thirty years of success. 

" Charming ! " said the chief of police, " he has left us his card ; there's 
nothing wanting but P.P.C." 

At this moment they heard hurried steps on the stairs. M. Manuel 
and Gratien Voiville appeared. 

" Well ? " asked the commissary of the Saint — district. 

" Well, my dear colleague, this is what they call in theatrical parlance a 
' frost.' " 

" What ! a failure ? " 

"Rest contented; there are two men in this case who have to have their 
revenge. All is not yet over between myself and M. Loyal-Fran- 
cceur." 

Antheaume and Fauvette were right. It was intentionally, by a skilful 
manoeuvre, a veritable masterstroke of strategy, that the fugitive had left 
the gas escaping, in order to cause confusion among his assailants 
and allow himself time to escape. When the inquiry agent, after leaving 
Madame Wilson's house, where he had just committed a fresh crime, had 
repaired to his friend's, Madame Honor6 Broussel, he had found the house 
empty. For what reason we shall know later on, and also what influence 
the mid-wife's absence would have had on M. Loyal-Francoeur's decision, 
had he known the motive of it. But this he did not know. He was there- 
fore satisfied with grumbling a little, and, determining to return later on, 
he made his way straight to the Rue Chanoinesse. No one had been there 
as yet. He had time to take his precautions before the arrival of the 
police, for he was certain that they would come. He went upstairs, 
opened his desk and pigeon-holes and threw pell-mell into the fire the 
principal documents, to which he set fire. Whilst the papers were burn- 
ing, he opened his private cupboard. He took from it the bank-notes, the 
gold, the jewels, put in his pocket an ebony-handled dagger, and a small 
revolver destined to take the place of the one that he had dropped in the 
house in the Champs-Elysees, after having fired upon Dolores. As he was 
finishing he heard voices downstairs. It was the police arriving. M. 
Loyal-Francceur was in no doubt about that. But, certain of the 
stoutness of his locks, he continued his task. 

Replacing his black wig by a grey " scratch," he took from the bottom 
of his drawer a woman's print dress, a bonnet and a large bag. He 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 121 

crammed into the bag the money, the notes and the papers which he 
wished to take away, and, by the light of the gas, he began to "make up " 
his face in front of the glass. He heard the police attacking the first door 
and did not disturb himself. It was only when they proceeded to lay 
siege to the second that he thought it was time to fly. Stirring with his 
foot the papers in the fire-place, which had ceased to flame, he blew out 
the two jets. The odour of the gas at once became apparent in the room. 

" There'll be a nice scene presently," said Loyal, with an ironical laugh. 

The door cracked. He took his bag and went out by the secret exit. 
At the bottom of the stairs he saw two men standing sentinel. His heart 
beat fast. But he put a good face on it. He went down, shuffling from 
side to side, as old women do. 

"Excuse me, good sirs," said he in his little squeaky voice, and dropping 
a curtsey. 

The two inspectors looked at him. 

" Shall we let her pass ? " said one of them, suspiciously. 

" They said ' a man,' " remarked the other. 

They drew aside. Loyal-Francceur gave a sigh of relief. He walked 
as far as the corner of the street. There, taking off in the twinkling of an 
eye his gown, bonnet, and wig, he stuffed them into his bag and walked to 
the Place de l'H6tel-de-Ville. He had passed two or three cabs on the 
way, and the drivers, seeing him walking hurriedly, with a large bag in 
his hand, had greeted him with the traditional : " Cab, sir?" But he took 
no notice of them. He went up to the rank, approached the first cab, 
opened the door and stepped in. 

" The Northern Station," he cried, loudly enough to be plainly heard by 
all around. The driver jumped down, took the rug from his horse's back, 
and began to take off the nosebag in which the poor animal was searching 
for the last grains of corn. 

" Quick, quick, I'm in a hurry," said M. Loyal, who had his plan. 

The driver looked at him, hastily took off the nosebag, and swung him- 
self up on to his seat. 

"Do youknowwhattime the Brusselstrain goes?" asked the inquiry-agent. 

The driver began to laugh. 

" Right you are," said he. " But don't be alarmed. It's too late for the 
6.20. But, by whipping up my horse a bit, I can catch the 8.15, by Douai." 

" Well, drive quickly. You shall have a good tip if we catch it." 

The driver lashed his horse and started off. 

We have said that Loyal-Francceur had his plan. He was playing a 
desperate game. In confiding himself thus to a cabman's discretion, he 
might get himself arrested, but he was certain — and this was what he wanted — 
of publishing his departure. In order to make surer, once started, he took 
from his bag two or three letters, trifling letters, referring to business 
matters. He added to these several bills, folded the whole in one of the 
celebrated circulars and fastened the parcel with an indiarubber band. 
He placed this under the cushion, so as to make a lump. Then he took 
from his bag his woman's bonnet and gown, which he threw on the bottom 
of the cab, under his feet. They arrived at the station. Springing lightly 
out, he put a ten-franc piece into the driver's hand, hurried into the waiting- 
room, followed the gallery, in the midst of a crowd of passengers, and went 
out again by the yard on the left. 

" Let them look for Loyal-Francceur at Brussels now," he muttered. 
"They'll find him just about as much there as they will in Paris." 



122 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

So as not to pass the cabman again, who would have recognised him, he 
walked quickly down the Rue de Maubeuge and gained the Boulevard de 
la Chapelle. A tram-car was passing. He got into it. At La Viilette he 
got out, crossed the circus, and entered the Rue Secr^tan. 



XXXV. 

HOW INCOGNITOS ARE MANAGED IN PABIS. 

The Rue Secr^tan runs directly from the La Villette-circus to one of the 
gates of the Buttes-Chaumont park. Accordingly the neighbourhood of the 
magnificent promenade has attracted to this street crowds of workmen, 
dealers, pastry-cooks, sellers of sweets, nougat, oranges, images, children's 
toys, and even photographs, " which are produced quickly and faithfully, 
admirably and surprisingly, for the small sum of one franc." All this busy 
throng occupies a row of small wooden houses on the left side of the hill ; 
behind is waste land where in summer are set up booths, skittle alleys, 
roundabouts, and even dancing platforms, and where, on the approach of 
winter, acrobats come and camp, living there in their waggons with the 
greatest economy until the time for their country trips comes round again. 
M. Loyal-Francoeur entered this street, still carrying his precious bag in 
his hand. After having gone a little way past the market, he entered the 
small space left open between two booths, and arrived at a spot where there 
was an encampment of mountebanks. A dog barked on seeing him and 
rushed at him with the evident intention of biting. But the inquiry -agent 
quieted him with a word : 

" Quiet, Lucifer ! " he said. — " A friend, old fellow." 

Lucifer evidently knew M. Loyal-Francceur, for he ceased barking and 
gave a joyous whine. 

" What's the matter ? Who's there ? " cried a loud, rough voice. 

"It's I, don't be alarmed," said Loyal-Francceur in a low voice. 

"Who's/?" 

"Why, don't you recognise my voice ? " 

" I recognise nothing ; what's your name ? " 

" Come," said the inquiry-agent, walking nearer, " you must know that 
there are occasions when it doesn't do to be too talkative." 

"Hullo! it's yon, M. Loy— " 

" Hush ! Open the door of your crib, quick ; we'll talk afterwards." 

The mountebank opened the door and admitted Loyal-Francceur, who 
shut it again. 

" Well, what's up ? " asked the proprietor of the waggon. 

" Something serious ; but can anyone hear us ? " 

"No one." 

" Well, old fellow, you have before you a man with whom the air of 
Paris by no means agrees." 

' ' Nonsense ! What's happened ? 

' ' Why, that affair — you know. " 

"What! the carachoV 

" They've recognised him." 

"How the devil did they do that?" cried the mountebank with sur- 
prise. 

" I don't know, but so it is, and they know that he has been murdered." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 123 

The mountebank turned pale. 

"You tell me that and sit there quietly ; you don't warn me at once. 
But / shall have to go a bit quicker ; I'm off." 

" There, there, there," interrupted M. Loyal-Francceur, stopping him. 

" You run no risk. It's not the arm that they recognise ; it's the head, 
and it's for that reason that I, who am in danger, have come to ask for 
shelter from you, who have nothing to fear. " 

' ' Ah ! are you sure ? " said the mountebank, breathing more freely. ' ' But 
how can they suspect you, you who remained quietly at home whilst we 
were doing the job ? " 

" There's the other matter. The girl, you know." 

" The one we kidnapped ? then it was all the same affair ? " 

' ' Yes. Well, she's gone off. " 

" Impossible ; and she has split ? " 

"Just so," said Loyal-Francosur, who did not wish to take his companion 
entirely into his confidence. "Then there is a third complication; some- 
one who ran foul of me and whom I shot." 

" What ! you did the deed yourself? " 

" That was unfortunately what spoilt all. I'm a fugitive now, and forced 
to hide myself, if I don't want to get into serious trouble." 

" But, at any rate," said the mountebank, with an insinuating air, " you 
made something of it ? " 

" My poor Alcindor, I've been robbed ! absolutely robbed ; I've got no- 
thing, nothing ! " 

" Nothing, for such an important job ? " 

" Nothing. I'm out of pocket by it ; for I paid you in advance." 

"A hundred francs ! it was a gift for you ! 

" Well, you had the pickings, the contents of his pockets." 

"Oh, yes, a great catch!" cried the mountebank, "a fine stroke of 
luck ! not a louis, not a ' flimsy,' nothing but counters, which would have 
bowled us out if we had tried to use them. " 

"Go along!" 

" Honour bright." 

" Well, at least it didn't do you any harm, whilst I who bore all the ex- 
pense and trouble, without any return, am risking my head now, and have 
lost my agency and all my connection." 

"Fearful, fearful!" said Alcindor, with an air of compassion. "But 
what are you going to do ? " 

" Change my skin, thanks to your kind protection, and start a new 
business. " 

" That requires money." 

"I've put by a little." 

" Which you've got, no doubt, in yon bag? " inquired the mountebank, 
casting a side-glance at it. 

Loyal-Francceur intercepted this glance, and began to chuckle in the most 
natural way possible. 

" Ha, ha, my good Alcindor, do you think I should be fool enough to 
cart my money about? No, no, my friend. The few sous that I 
possess are in a safe place. I have only what is strictly necessary, 
here." 

"Anyway, what's your plan ? " 

' ' First of all, as I told ycu, to alter my phw. I shall want to dye my 
skin a bit. Then- -have you your cab still ? " 



124 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" The one with the movable number ? " said Aloindor, laughing. " Yes, 
it's there, waiting to be used. " 

" You'll get me half a dozen large trunks, and put on your coachman's 
costume." 

"Right. What for?" 

" Simply to take me to an hotel. I shall be a foreigner arriving in Paris 
with his luggage. " 

' ' Bono chouia, as the Arabs say. And when do you want to be ' made 
up ? '" 

' ' At once, if possible. " 

" Nothing is impossible to Alcindor, the only man who works for the 
different courts of Europe, Africa, Oceania, and a thousand other places," 
said the mountebank, putting on his professional voice " Come here, 
Papa Loyal ; in a quarter of an hour your father — if you ever had one — 
would no longer recognise his child. " 

" Don't talk so much, but act," said Loyal-Francceur. "What am I to 
do?" 

" Sit down here. There. Don't move, as the photographers say ; the 
operation is about to commence." 

As he spoke Alcindor took from a drawer two bottles and some brushes. 
He began by well soaping M. Loyal-Francceur's face, neck and hands ; 
then, dipping a brush in one of the bottles, he began to daub his face. 

" You see," said he, as he went on with his task, " some only use plum- 
juice for this kind of thing ; that's a very mild affair, good enough to play 
Atar-Gnll at the theatre, and nothing more. Others use tincture of iodine 
with good effect. But, in addition to its burning, there comes a time when 
it turns violet. I have found after long study that walnut-peel, well 
distilled, is the best of all. You'll be able to give me your opinion." 

" Have you nearly finished ? " asked the patient. 

" Wait a minute. There's the hair to do yet. No offence, but yours is 
a beautiful colour. You must have been born when the red poppies were 
in flower. With my capillary tincture, — trademark S.G.D.G.- — I can 
remedy that. Your hair is as black as a crow's wing now. Just a brush 
to finish up with. You look like a Milanese or a native of Camebiere. 
Look ! " 

He held a glass in front of M. Loyal-Francceur, who uttered an exclama- 
tion of surprise. He was, in fact, utterly unrecognisable. 

" And now," said Alcindor, "listen. A lotion, to be applied every week, 
is sufficient for the hair. As for the skin, there are two places which wear 
white : the palm of the hand and the corners of the chin. Be careful of 
that. When it fades, you will only have to touch yourself up with the 
brush." 

' ' Now for the cab, " said Loyal-Francceur. 

" You're in a hurry, then." 

"Rather!" 

" It'll be best for you to sleep here. We can talk that over to-morrow." 

" To-morrow, old fellow, it will be daylight and the police will have had 
time to move. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day." 

Alcindor Boudillon opened the door, went behind his van, and from a 
kind of shed, made out of stakes and canvas, pulled out a cab, ramshackle 
in appearance, but still strong and in a fit state to be used. He furnished 
it with two numbered lamps, one 685, the other 11,243. In this way any 
inquisitively disposed person who might wish to find the driver of the cab 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



125 



again would have two false clues instead of one. Then he went and 
fetched from another shed a great strong Percheron horse, which he har- 
nessed to the cab. 

" How does that suit you ? " he asked. 

" I want one or two trunks," replied Loyal-Francceur. 

" I have some, only they are empty." 

" Aren't there any stones here ? " 

They took the two trunks and crammed them with stones, lit the two 
lamps, and, with Loyal-Francceur installed inside and Alcindor on the box, 
they drove off. 

"Whereto, sir?" said the mountebank, putting on the true cabman's 
twang. 

" I don't know. A good hotel, somewhere Batignolles way. I've never 
lived there. It'll be a change for me." 

" And, besides that, you'll run less risk of meeting any acquaintances ? " 

" Just so, you sly dog." 

" Ha, ha ; right you are. Gee up ! Cocotte ! " 

The cab drove off. 



XXXVI. 

A FRESH IDENTITY. 

A quarter of an hour later the cab which carried M. Loyal-Francceur and 
his fortunes pulled up in the Rue des Batignolles, in front of the Sailors' 
Hotel. Without being luxurious, the house has a very respectable appear- 
ance. At the first glance the inquiry-agent saw that Alcindor had made a 
good choice. Although it was late, the arrival of a cab caused a certain 
amount of excitement. A waiter in a blue apron came and opened the door, 
whilst a woman of about thirty appeared on the threshold. M. Loyal- 
Francceur got out and, addressing this woman, said with a Southern accent, 

" Could I have a good bedroom here, where I shall be quite quiet ? " 

" For one night, or for some time, sir ? " 

" Oh, for a month ; more, perhaps, if I am comfortable." 

"Come in, sir, I'll show you up. Gustave, take down the gentleman's 
trunk." 

The waiter set about unloading the trunks which the driver com- 
placently handed him. 

" Do you require a simple bedroom, or a suite ? I happen to have some- 
thing very nice : a small ante-room, a large bedroom, and an alcove. When 
you have visitors, you just close the alcove and it becomes a drawing-room." 

" What is the price of that ? " 

"Sixty francs a month, sir, or not less than fifty -fi ve ; it's quite a 
chance." 

" Let me see it." 

The lady showed the room to the traveller, who examined it, opened and 
shut the doors of the alcove, tried the action of the curtains and saw that 
the register acted well. 

"It's easy to see that you are from the country," said the landlady, 
laughing, " you look to all the small details." 

" Quite right, madame ; I'm used to home life, and so—" 

" You will find that here, sir ; this is such a quiet house." 



126 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" Fifty francs, eh ? " 

"No, fifty-five, at the lowest." 

"Come ! Fifty-five francs is not even money." 

"I began by making the reduction myself. If you would prefer a 
simple bedroom ? " 

" Very well, fifty -five. But you'll give me a fire at least, the first day." 

" Certainly. Will you write your name in the book ? " 

"Yes," said Loyal-Francceur without hesitation; and, taking from the 
landlady the pen which she handed him, he filled up the official book in a 
handwriting entirely different from his own : 

" Marius Nogale, thirty-five, born at Auch, commercial traveller, from 
Marseilles." There remained the column which is reserved, or is supposed 
to be reserved, for the travellers' papers of identity. Loyal-Francceur, or 
Marius Nogale, since this was his adopted name, asked the landlady : 

" Shall I show you my papers ? The fact is, they are at the bottom of 
my trunk." 

" Oh, it's a formality. We usually put N. P., that is to say, no papers. 
If you prefer to enter yours — " 

"Then I'll open my trunk ? " 

" Oh, no, I'll take your word for it." 

"Thanks. Then I'll put simply: 'certificate of birth.' That will be 
enough, won't it ? " 

" Certainly. Put what you like, for the matter of that," 

M. Loyal wrote : " Certificate of birth and passport." 

" The driver wants to know whether you have done with him, sir," said 
the waiter, coming in. 

"Ah ! I must pay him; quite a journey from the Lyons station here. 
With luggage, that's worth four francs, eh, madame ? " 

" And especially as they're heavy," remarked the waiter. 

" Well, I'll give him ten francs. He was very obliging." 

Loyal-Francceur went down to the cab, gave Alcindor a louis and a ten- 
franc piece and said pleasantly, 

" Here, my man, if ever I come across your cab, I shall always take it in 
preference to any other. Trust Marius Nogale, for that's my name ; I'm 
very pleased with your services." 

"Marius Nogale," repeated Alcindor in a low voice, "right; I'll re- 
member it." 

He touched his hat, gathered up his reins, and drove off. 

"And now," said Loyal-Francceur, returning to the office, "now my 
good landlady, if you could send me up something to eat ? " 

" Whatever you like, sir ; cold veal, ham, half a fowl." 

" Half a fowl And a bottle of Bordeaux — but good." 

" Oh, sir, it comes from Bordeaux itself." 

" All right. Send it up quick ; I'm dying with hunger." 

M. Loyal eat heartily, drank his bottle, went to bed and slept like a 
man who has nothing to fear or reproach himself with. He woke next 
morning at seven, dressed, took from his bag paper, pens and ink, and 
wrote three letters. The first was addressed to " M. Loyal-Francceur 
inquiry-agent, poste restante, Brussels, Belgium ; the others to " M. 
Marius Nogale, traveller, Sailors' Hotel, Rue des Batignolles, Paris." On 
one of these two latter he wrote : " Value one hundred francs," and put 
five red seals on the back. Then he went down stairs, went to the post- 
office at the Place de Clichy, where he posted the first two letters and 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



127 



walked on to the office in the Rue d'Amsterdam, where he registered the 
third one and walked quietly home to breakfast. By means of the first 
letter he let the police know of his departure for Brussels, by means of 
the two others he confirmed his identity at his hotel ; by means of the 
third, the registered one, he created for himself a kind of first document 
attesting his fresh identity. It may be seen that, like a good player, M. 
Loyal-Francoeur neglected no card in his hand. After a plentiful break- 
fast, concluding with an excellent cup of coffee and a glass of dry 
champagne, M. Marius Nogale — since this was the name of the new lodger 
at the Sailors' H6tel — M. Marius Nogale called for the papers. They all 
referred to the event of the day before, but in different terms. Some 
related separately, and as two cases quite distinct from one another, the 
Crime in the Avenue Montaigne, and the Explosion in the Rue des 
Chantres. Two or three, thanks to better information, or a useful hint, 
set up a connection between the two events, saying that it was subsequent 
to an attempt at extortion that the inquiry-agent, Loyal-Francoeur, had 
assassinated Madame W. , and that, discovered and pursued by the police, 
he had blown up his office — by dynamite, said one, by pi crate of potash, 
according to another. One only, Gratien Voiville's, who this time was 
triumphant and had utilised his notes which had been so long held in 
reserve, one only related almost in full, but in vague terms, the whole 
story. It referred to the murder of the Count de San-Fernando, attributed 
for some few days to an honourable gentleman who had since been found 
innocent, to the abduction of Mademoiselle de X — , the daughter of one 
of our old generals of the Army of the Rhine ; to the duel of the celebrated 
Paul Z., who had left town in consequence of his wound, and finally to the 
shot fired by the inquiry-agent, Loyal-Francoeur — the name, this time, was 
in full — at the beautiful Dolores Wilson, because she refused to furnish him 
with the money necessary for his flight. 

In Voiville's account there was no reference to the prominent part played 
by Dolores. Dolores was dead or dying ; the police could ask her no 
questions. It had therefore been thought that the simplest plan was to 
leave her on one side and attribute to Loyal-Francoeur the whole responsi- 
bility of the affair. The Spanish lady was an additional victim, that was 
all ; it all served to thicken the plot. 

" Dog ! " exclaimed Marius Nogale, after reading this. " And to think 
that history is written thus ! " 

Gratien Voiville's account continued with the expedition against the 
" fortress " in the Rue des Chantres. The reporter did not fail — so as to 
make his colleagues green with jealousy — to mention his presence and the 
part he had borne. Every moment the word "we" occurred : 

" We get upstairs, we attack the iron-cased door, we penetrate at last 
into the sanctum, when a terrible explosion takes place. The gas, left to 
escape by the villainous murderer, had ignited. Several of us are thrown 
off our feet." 

' ' If only this fellow had broken one or two of his paws ! " growled Marius 
Nogale, interrupting his perusal. " Oh, these journalists, and especially 
the reporters, what a pest they are ! " 

" Unfortunately," continued the account, "the murderer had escaped, 
escaped in spite of a cordon of detectives distributed round the house. It 
is supposed that he had disguised himself as a woman — " 

" They know everything, these brutes ! " 

" — And had gained the Northern station, where he took the train for 



128 DISPATCH AND SECRECY 

Brussels, the eight o'clock train. It may be seen that we are exact. As 
a matter of fact, information has been laid before the police by the cabman 
who drove him, whom he had asked about the trains, and in whose cab he 
left in his hurry two or three importantjpapers, as well as his feminine 
disguise. The murderer is therefore at Brussels." 

" That's it ! They've fallen into the trap," said Loyal-Francoeur to himself, 
with a sigh of relief. 

"But he will not remain there long undiscovered. His description has 
been forwarded to the Public Prosecutor and a search will be made in all 
the furnished apartments in the Belgian capital. Further details will 
follow shortly." 

" Done, old fellow ! " chuckled Loyal-Francceur. " Done ! If this is 
your idea, we'll have the laugh of you, thanks especially to the little letter 
that I've just sent off. Ah ! my bold police, you think it's an easy matter 
to catch me like that. Well, it's Greek against Greek. It's a stern 
chase. Loyal-Francoeur is dead, and Marius Nogale defies you." 

XXXVII. 

AT FAULT. 

A month and a half has elapsed since the events we have just related hap. 
pened. In spite of the efforts of the police, who had nevertheless set their 
best detectives to work, they had found it impossible to discover Loyal- 
Francceur. Deceived by the cabman's story, who had brought the little 
packet and the clothes "forgotten" in the cab, the magistrate and the chief of 
police had made up their minds that the murderer had gone to Brussels. 
The Belgian police had been informed and had in turn made an active search. 
But they had found not the least trace of the individual described. 

There had been a glimmer of hope — namely, when the letter had been re- 
ceived that the ex-agent had addressed to himself at Brussels. A smart de- 
tective had been stationed permanently at the post-office. But no one had 
come to claim the letter. Hoping to find some clue in it, they had obtained 
legal powers and opened it. It simply warned the addressee that the police 
were searching for him and told him to take advantage of a ship which was 
leaving Antwerp for America at the end of the month, telling him that the 
" person agreed upon " awaited him in the Rue des Herbes to furnish him 
with a passport. This opened up a fresh clue, which came to nothing, 
since this information was only a trick on M. Loyal's part. Having received 
a bullet in her chest, Dolores had died without giving the slightest in- 
formation. As far as she was concerned, the case perforce was abandoned. 
A search at the house in the Avenue de Montaigne had led to no result. 
Finally, when the police had paid her a visit, Madame Broussel, midwife, 
had forcibly protested her ignorance of the whole affair. Having been 
called in to attend a young woman who was on the point of becoming a 
mother, she had conscientiously performed her duty and had accompanied 
to the mayor's office the young man who had called her in and who had 
stated that he was the father — she did not know the name of the woman, 
and, had she known it, professional etiquette would have forbidden her to 
mention it. After having placed the child under the care of a good nurse, 
she had troubled herself no more about it. As for Loyal-Francoeur, she 
did not know of the existence of such a person. There was no incrimin- 
ating this woman. She stood upon her rights. They could not touch her. 
If they had only known ! 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



129 



The case was, therefore, not abandoned, but temporarily held in suspense. 
Having lost all trace, the bloodhounds at fault waited, or rather they turned 
their attention to something else. There is not much time for leisure in 
the police service. The public had already forgotten the whole business. 
At the time it had furnished the occasion for much talk. The Comte de San- 
Fernando's death, the mysterious story of the young girl who had been 
carried off, the explosion in the Rue des Chantres, had been eagerly dwelt 
on by the public. The papers had given full accounts of them — the illus- 
trated ones straining the imagination to produce the different scenes — then, 
as the murderer was not captured, there happened what happened in the case 
of the Walder, the Passage Saulnier, and the Rue Fontaine crimes— no more 
was thought of it. A new play at the Varietes with three songs by Judic ; 
a quarrel between a well-known actor and his manager ; a scandal in a great 
club, where a gentleman belonging to one of the oldest families iu France had 
been caught in the act of cheating at cards, had taken possession of public 
opinion. The Loyal-Francceur case had gone to keep company with the old 
legends ; it was done with. The chief of police, however, had not for- 
gotten it. Nor Paul Clairac either, who had not discovered his betrothed ; 
nor Colonel de Rieumes, who was bewailing his daughter, and finally, 
the Comte de Pringy who, accusing himself of having aided in the base deed, 
thought only of the faults he had committed, and had sworn to devote to 
this object his fortune and his life, were it necessary. It is needless to say 
that the colonel and Paul Clairac, on becoming aware of how he had been 
duped, had granted him free and full forgiveness of the wrong which he 
had. done them. All three were seeking the solution to another problem, 
more important to them than Loyal-Francceur's capture. They wanted to 
know what had become of Jeanne. It was certain — the inquiry-agent had 
declared it to Dolores during the interview which had preceded the 
murder in the Avenue Montaigne — it was certain that she had been ab- 
ducted by Loyal-Francceur. But what had he done with her 1 He could 
not have killed her, since he had told Pringy that he engaged to find her 
again — that is to say, to restore her — in consideration of the sum of two 
hundred thousand francs. He had therefore concealed her, hidden her 
away somewhere. Unfortunately they had not been able to capture him 
and make him confess where. And they anxiously asked themselves 
whether in his rapid flight he had not left her, alone and succourless, in 
some hiding-place, where she had died from grief and hunger. The chief of 
police himself was much puzzled on this point. Especially did he regret 
the abortive expedition to the Rue des Chantres. And yet had he not under 
taken it for the best, and could he under the circumstance have done other- 
wise ? The man was there. They had only to capture him. It is true 
they had failed to do so. 

So time had passed on. Carnival time arrived. For the last few years 
this series of fetes has not had much effect on the streets. On Shrove 
Tuesday as at Mid Lent, there is nothing to be seen on the Boulevards but 
an enormous crowd of loafers, who stare in vain for a sight of the masks. 
But the masks do not come. Here and there are a few women dressed in 
men's clothes, men wearing ragged gowns and dirty, shapeless hats, or 
half-a-dozen street urchins dressed in fancy costumes, in which their 
parents' wardrobes play the principal part ; in the place of cavalcades are 
hired conveyances, from which a serious-looking gentleman, adorned with 

« E 



130 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

a false nose, distributes bills advertising insect-powder or economical 
stoves. We have bidden farewell to the joyous procession of the Bacchan- 
alian Queen and the mirth-producing figures with which it delighted the 
crowd. Every year the Carnival gets nearer to its death-gasp. If it is 
not dead it is very nearly so. The only sign of life which it continues to 
give is the series of masked balls at the Opera, the Eden Theatre, Tivoli- 
Vauxhall or Bullier. There are the happy meeting-places of joyous folks 
who pawn their last shirt or pair of sheets in order to be able to hire a 
costume and dance all night before a wearied and dull audience, whilst the 
next day they awake to find that they have no means left to dance for 
another year. It was Carnival, then, and three or four masked balls were 
advertised. At seven o'clock in the evening the "disguised," as they are 
still called in Paris, began to leave their houses to repair to their different 
places of amusement. In the new street which skirts the former site of 
the Tuileries, and which has been formed out of a private garden, some 
loiterers ha^ 1 assembled round a group. As chance would have it, it hap- 
pened to be a funny one. It was composed of four young fellows, whose 
costumes were at least original. One was dressed as a bear, a fact which, 
having regard to the bitter cold, had some sense in it. Another, with no 
less an eye to the questions of the day, wore a Chinese costume, with long 
moustaches and the traditional pigtail, and carried on his shoulder, to look 
like a rifle, the favourite weapon of Moliere's matachins, adorned at the 
end with a large black flag ; the third, wearing a black coat and white tie, 
had his face painted and tatooed like a Redskin, whilst his hair was of a 
golden colour ; the fourth, in spite of the police order forbidding the as- 
sumption of any civil, ecclesiastical, or military costume, or one belonging 
to a corporate body or administration, was got up as a mute and carried 
under his arm a little coffin filled with penny cigars, which, from time to 
time, he threw to the urchins who were following him. It is needless to 
dwell on the success which the four friends met with. The shouts, 
hurrahs and bravos were never-ending. The crowd of spectators blocked 
the road, stopping cabs and other conveyances ; it was a veritable triumph 
At the height of the confusion, just as the Black Flag had made a speech 
to the people, a speech enlivened by the Redskin's guttural cries, the growl 
of the Bear, and the distribution of cigars by the Mute, a young woman, a 
work -girl, arrived, and being no doubt in a hurry, tried to force her way 
through the good-natured crowd. She received nothing at first but chaff 
and insults. The people who were standing at some distance would not 
allow anyone to go nearer than they, and those who were close were intent 
on keeping their places. But the Redskin, having by chance noticed her, 
interrupted his comrade, elbowed aside two or three spectators, went up 
to her and politely offered her his vermilion-painted hand. The girl was 
confused for a moment. Then, overcoming the instinctive feeling of alarm 
which the unexpected aspect of this strange individual had caused her, she 
tried to profit by the room which had been made and proceed on her way. 
But this did not suite the Redskin ; seizing, in spite of herself, the poor 
child by the arm, he drew her to him, muttering in her ear a few hoarse 
sounds which fairly terrified her. At the same time, the Bear, who had 
approached, took her by the waist, the Black Flag brandished his warlike 
weapon, and the Mute dolefully offered his little coffin. Pale, trembling, 
a prey, in spite of herself, to a feeling of terror and repulsion which she 
could not overcome, the poor child tried in vain to escape from the four 
practical jokers. Encouraged by the bravos of the crowd, they surrounded 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



131 



her and began to drag hor along in the midst of a mad dance to the sounds 
of the Rose Waltz which the Bear yelled cavernously in his cardboard 
head, and which the Mute accompanied, beating time on his coffin. 

" Let me go ! help ! help !" cried the poor girl, terrified. 

But the masks paid no attention. On the contrary, her supplications and 
cries seemed to excite them. They redoubled their dances and songs. 
The delight of the crowd was at its height. Suddenly a vigorous push 
scattered the spectators who were crowding to look at the attractive sight. 
In spite of oaths and resistance, a man made his way to the first rank. In 
the twinkling of an eye the Bear was sent flying, the Redskin thrown 
on his back along with the Black Flag, whilst the Mute, elbowed on one 
side, let go his box, the contents of which were scattered on the ground. 
It was like a thunderbolt. The four young men got up in a fury and 
rushed threatening on the man who had appeared so inopportunely for 
the enjoyment of their witty amusement. But the latter, without appear- 
ing to trouble himself, placed the young girl behind him and, turning 
to his assailants, stood on his defence. He was not a young man, and his 
age should have debarred all idea of becoming mixed up in quarrels of this 
description. To judge by his white hair and grizzly moustache, one would 
have put his age at sixty, at the least. But his sparkling eye, his broad 
shoulders, his martial bearing, and above all, the red ribbon which 
adorned his buttonhole, bore witness to a manly nature, and one for which 
a struggle, however unequal, had no terrors. He had planted himself 
firmly, facing his opponents, awaiting their attack, and ready to return it. 
The Bear was the first to advance to the charge ; a vigorous blow full in 
his face sent the sham head flying, and the pale and terrified face which 
appeared in its place wore such an expression of alarm, that the spec- 
tators, on seeing it, gave vent to a huge roar of laughter. 

" Bravo ! sir ! " cried a voice. 

The newcomer's cause had triumphed. By a sudden change the crowd, 
at first disposed to quarrel with him for having interrupted its amusement, 
had been won over by the cavalier fashion in which he faced his assailants. 
The Redskin, who was advancing to attack in his turn, reflected and drew 
back. 

' ' Ah ! he's funking ! " cried an urchin. 

" He's frightened ! " 

"Look at the Bear ; what a mug ! " 

" He hasn't got any mug ; he's lost it." 

" True. Down with the Bear ! " 

" And the Mute ; he s lost his goods." 

Half-a-dozen street arabs, kneeling, crawling and lying at full length, 
were fighting over the "goods." One of them had already got possession 
of the box, another was dragging at the Bear's head, which, held by a piece 
of string, w r as hanging down his back ; a third was trying to get hold of 
the Black Flag's weapon ; as for the Redskin, he was gesticulating furiously, 
shaking his golden hair, which scattered a yellow powder abroad. It was 
on them that the crowd which had adored them a minute ago now turneds 
They were insulted and hustled, and had nothing left but hasty retreat 



132 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

XXXVIII. 

Isidore's secrets. 

Profiting by this change of attitude, the individual who had thus so 
fortunately arrived on the scene, led the girl in the direction of the quay, 
and they soon found themselves alone at the end of the Pont Royal. 

" You are rid of those wretches now, my child," said the stranger 
affectionately. ' ' But they might return. You must get home quickly. " 

The poor girl was so upset that she could hardly stand. She 
stammered out a few words of thanks, but she reeled and was obliged to 
lean on the parapet of the bridge to keep herself from falling. They heard 
shouts and laughter in the Rue des Tuileries. It was the crowd which was 
now hustling the four masks. 

" Where were you going to, my child? " asked her protector. 

" To the Rue Saint- Jacques." 

" But that's a long way off, and in your present condition — " 

A cab was passing ; the stranger made a sign to the driver to stop. 

" No, "said the girl, quickly collecting herself. " I have recovered, I am 
strong. I can walk." 

" But it is impossible. Get in at once. " 

The young girl from being deadly pale became scarlet. 

"Ah !" cried the stranger suddenly, struck by an idea — "poor child. 
You have no money, perhaps, to pay for the cab ? " 

She hung her head. 

" I had been to take some work home," she stammered. "They promised 
to pay me to-morrow. " 

" But you live at home ? " 

" My brother is out of work, my mother ill." 

A pitying expression came over the stranger's face. 

" Mademoiselle," said he, " will you allow me to accompany you home ? " 

" But sir—" she said, hesitating. 

"Oh," he cried, "have no fear. Look at me. I'm old enough to be 
your father." 

"It is not that. But we are so poor, so wretched, now — " 

"Well?" 

" That my mother would be pained to be seen thus." 

" No, my child, for I shall let her know that I respect her as much in 
misfortune as if she received me in a sumptuous drawing-room. But there, 
this is no time to talk. There's the crowd coming this way. Get in, 
quick. " 

The masks, who had made friends with the crowd again, were, in fact, 
returning, shouting and singing. He pushed the young girl into the cab 
and said to tbe driver : 

" Rue Saint- Jacques ! " 

The cab drove off at a gallop. 

.... 

Things had sadly changed at the little home in the Rue Saint- Jacques 
It no longer wore the smiling aspect which we have seen. Joy and happi 
ness had given place to the most dreary despair. Misfortune had, in fact, 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



133 



fallen on the little family. When Victor, disgusted at the horrible task 
which had been demanded from him, had left M. Loyal- Francosur, refusing 
even to accept the month's salary which was owing to him, refusing the 
money which would have polluted his fingers, he had not dreimt of the 
struggle which he would have against fate. In Paris the existence of a 
clerk is a hard one. Not only does he earn but little for the appearance 
which he has to keep up, but situations are few and difficult to obtain. 
When a labourer loses his place he remains idle often for a week or two ; 
but he gets work again. If a clerk is dismissed, he is obliged to wait six 
months or a year before he is able to get another situation. And does he 
get one even then ? In many services, banks, railways, insurance offices, 
financial companies, they ask: "Where was your last place? Hew and 
why did you leave it ? " And if he says that he has been insulted, degraded, 
or not paid, the manager says : 

"He's insubordinate ; we can't take him." 

Moreover, are there not now-a-days, in all private firms, and especially 
in trade, enormous crowds of foreigners, Germans, Prussians, who snap up 
all the situations ? They are submissive, modest, quiet, dull even, and ask 
so little salary ! In the meanwhile the clerk out of a place looks for 
employment in vain. Wherever he shows his face the door is shut against 
him, and his means become exhausted. His visits to the pawnbroker's 
become more and more frequent, until the time arrives when they cease 
altogether, from having nothing left to take. He struggles long to preserve 
at least a little linen and a respectable coat to go out in ; then one day 
after a long fast, he parts with this last resource ; he is lost. And in 
addition to this, the oppressors of the poor hasten the arrival of misery. 
There are in Paris two hundred employment agencies which have never 
found work for a soul. And yet their vermilion-painted panels and flaming 
posters offer the most brilliant situations. Their sole object is to receive 
fees of fifty centimes — the highest possible. If, in order to scrape up this 
sum, the poor wretch with shabby clothes, worn-out boots and faded hat, 
has gone without breakfast, so much the worse for him. He is lucky even 
if in the bitter cold or driving rain he is not made to scour Paris in search 
of a situation which has never existed or which was given to someone else 
a week before. It is then that, with an empty stomach, jaded legs, soaked 
to the skin and utterly in despair, he generally comes to the conclusion 
that there is only one last step to take ; a leap into the Seine and a parisli 
burial. Victor had not yet arrived at this point, but he was well on the 
way. It is difficult to conceive what havoc a month of enforced idleness 
causes in a household where the expenses are calculated sou by sou. 
Victor had left, without drawing his salary, at the end of November, and 
Madame Borin, who had counted on his salary in order to meet her little 
debts at the end of the month, was sore put about to settle the baker's, 
butcher's, pastry-cook's and greengrocer's bills. It seems preposterous, 
but so it is. They had provided for their most pressing wants by pawning 
the few trinkets which the family possessed. They had paid everything ; 
but there was little ready money left. In order to live they had had to 
pawn the mother's shawl, the daughter's dresses, and the linen. 

And Victor looked in vain for work ; the end of December arrived ; the 
tradesmen had not been paid this time. This became known in the neigh- 
bourhood and warnings had been given out to grant no credit to the Borin 
family. To crown all, the poor mother had fallen ill and it had been 
necessary to procure the means to pay for a doctor and medicine. The 



134 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

trifle which Louise earned by her embroidery was not sufficient ; they had 
sold various objects to a neighbouring broker. The doorkeeper had heard of 
this and had become alarmed for the rent ; she had informed the landlord and 
had made no secret of the fact that if they had not paid by mid-day on the 
eighth they would not sleep at home that night. The eighth had passed, 
and they had not paid. The threat of the doorkeeper had not been carried 
out, but each day came demands, reproaches, insults. They might be 
turned out at any moment. The situation was alarming. What had 
especially aggravated poor Madame Borin's illness, was Victor's resignation. 
W hy had he left his master, the good Monsieur Loyal, so kind, so honour- 
able, so charitable ? Whatever had he done ? Whatever had happened ? 
To these questions Victor had only replied by subterfuges and prevarica- 
tions. He had left because it was necessary, because his conscience 
forbade him to remain any longer with this man. 

" This man ; the worthy M. Loyal." 

"Ah ! " said the poor woman to herself. "Victor has committed some 
grave fault that he will not tell me of. Mon Dieu ! not to trust his 
mother ! Let us hope nothing will happen to him. " 

These thoughts were killing the poor mother, who was far from suspect- 
ing the truth. But Victor would tell nothing. He had promised his 
master to keep silence. Such was the position of the Borin family at the 
time when the incident happened which we have just related. Madame 
Borin, seated in her armchair, with a lamp at her side, was trying to knit. 
But her hands, weakened and trembling from fever, could not guide the 
needles and kept letting the stitches drop, beside which, she was very un- 
easy. Louise, who had gone out nearly four hours before, had not returned. 
Paris is such a dangerous town for a young girl. Supposing some evil had 
befallen her ! Suddenly there was a violent ring. Madame Borin, making 
an effort, went to open the door and uttered a cry of surprise. It was 
Louise. But she stopped. A man accompanied her. This man, fortun- 
ately, was not young, and his demeanour and kind and open face at once 
soothed the mother's anxiety. 

"Excuse me, madame," said he, "but a little accident, or rather an 
incident, caused me to encounter your daughter, who spoke of you to me, 
and I asked permission to come and pay my respects." 

" Say rather, sir, that you are the most generous of men," interrupted 
the young girl, eagerly, " that you saved me from a great danger." 

" A danger ! " cried Madame Borin. 

" Yes, mother, and it was because I told him that we were deserted and 
wretched that he wished to come here. Listen, listen to what happened to 
me." 

And she told her mothor, who was trembling with emotion, of the 
incident in the Rue des Tuileries and the providential interference of her 
rescuer. 

" Ah ! sir, how can I thank yon ? " said Madame Borin, her eyes swimming 
with tears. 

*■' Nonsense ! " said the stranger, with forced gaiety, " you owe me no 
thanks. I'm an old soldier ; was it not a duty to rescue a woman in peril ? 
It did my rheumatism good to administer chastisement to the scoundrels. 
And then," he added, in a more serious voice, "I may tell you, madame, 
that this young girl suddenly reminded me of — another — for whom I 
mourn — " 

" You have lost your daughter ! " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 135 

"Lost ! yes, and in a terrible way, for I have not even the consolation 
of going to weep at her grave," said the stranger, in a choking voice, 
whilst two large tears rolled down over his grizzled moustache. 

" Oh, forgive me, sir, for having reminded you of this sad blow." 

"And it was for that reason, that, seeing your daughter insulted and ill- 
treated by some young blackguards, and exposed to the jeers of the crowd, 
I could not restrain myself from rushing up and driving away her tormen- 
tors. But that's enough," he interrupted, with an abruptness too marked 
to be affected. "I have brought you your daughter back safe and sound; my 
duty is over ; I must go." 

" Oh, sir, this act will bring you good," cried Madame Borin, not know- 
ing what she said. 

"Good fortune. Yes, perhaps. Perhaps, if God has pity on me, he 
will restore to me her whom I weep for ; but, I forgot, you are unhappy, 
ill, so your daughter told me ; your son is out of a situation. Here, here 
is something for your most pressing needs, and let your son come to me to- 
morrow, or when he likes, for letters to obtain work. Here is my card. 
Now, good-bye. No, one word more, madame ; will you allow me to kiss 
this child who makes me think of mine ? " 

"Oh, sir ! " cried both, much affected. 

The poor father approached Louise and took her in his arms. He im- 
printed on her forehead a kiss which left it wet with tears. Then, tearing 
himself from this embrace, he opened the door and rushed away. 
• • 

A few moments later Victor returned, heartbroken, and tired with fruit- 
less walking. They told him what had passed ; showed him the bank-note 
and the card which the stranger had left. Victor glanced at them and 
became deadly pale. 

"Colonel de Rieumes ! " he cried, "the justice of God! it is he who 
saves my mother and sister ; the man whose daughter I stole ! "" 



!' 



XXXIX. 

IN WHICH THE HUMPBACK REAPPEARS. 

Horrified at the exclamation which the young man had uttered, Louise 
and Madame Borin sprang up and looked at him as if demanding an ex- 
planation. 

" Yes," continued Victor, " I have said it : it is God's punishment upon 
me. I said when I touched that young girl that I was bringing trouble on 
my mother and sister. It has come true. And what has happened to-day 
is a warning from God. I must repair the evil that I have done." 

" But what evil have you done, and what young girl are you speaking 
of ? " asked Madame Borin, in amazement. 

" Wait, mother. You shall know everything later. Do not demand 
now a confession which would crush me with grief and shame, and I have 
need of all my courage and all my strength. " 

" Oh ! " said the poor woman. "I was afraid that you had done some- 
thing serious to that good M. Loyal ! " 

"M. Loyal!" cried the young man, bitterly, "that good M. Loyal! 
Yes, so he was called here. So many others called him, no doubt. Those 



136 DISPATCH AND SEGRBCY. 

who do not know him, those who have not seen through the mask of 
hypocrisy beneath which Loyal-Francoeur conceals himself, the thief and 
assassin ! " 

" What are you saying ? You are mad." 

" No, mother. But I beg you again, I repeat, do not ask me more. 
One day you shall know all and shall know that if I was wrong it was 
owing to the man whom you honour as a saint, to him whom, at the peril 
of my life, the sacrifice of my liberty, I shall and must unmask in the sight 
of the whole world. Good-bye, mother. You have the wherewithal to 
live for some few days, you and my sister. Those few days should be 
sufficient for me to do my duty and perform my task. He rose and walked 
towards the door. 

" Victor ! " cried the two women in a supplicating voice. 

"Kiss me, mother; and you too, my sister, and pray God to give me 
the courage and the strength to go through with it to the end." 

Tearing himself from their arms, he rushed downstairs, escaping like a 
madman, without turning his head. 

"Look out, sacrebleu!" screamed a squeaky voice, "you nearly smashed 
me." 

"Isidore ! " cried Victor, recognising M. Loyal's late clerk, " you here !" 

" M. Victor ! " exclaimed the humpback in turn. " Why, I was just 
coming to your place." 

"To my place?" 

"Certainly ! Why not? You'll be none the worse for it. I've got 
some fine things to tell yon." 

" I must ask you to excuse me, my friend. But I am in a hurry, I have 
far to go." 

" Well, if you're going a long way, we'll go together. I tell you, I've 
got some news for you. '' 

An idea struck the young man. Of what could Isidore wish to speak to 
him, if not of Loyal-Francceur ? Perhaps what he had to say might be of 
some use." 

" All right," said he. " What have you to tell me ? " 

"In the first place, I must tell you that I'm in a terrible fix. Ever 
since the disappearance of that scoundrel — " 

" But who ? " Who are you talking about ? " 

" Why, of the master, of course. You must know he has cut." 

" What ? M. Loyal-Francceur ? " 

"Wherever have you been? Don't you read the papers? The police 
are after him." 

It was true. In their distress neither Victor nor his mother had con- 
cerned themselves about what had passed outside. They had been without 
papers, even halfpenny papers, that intellectual manna of the poor. 

" Then it wasn't on account of the catastrophe that you left the shop ? " 
asked the humpback. 

' ' No, I resigned. " 

"Ah, well, I've plenty to tell you. You must know that for several 
days past the guv'nor hadn't been easy. He went backwards and forwards 
and used to stop out all day. I kept house and sent the clients off. But I 
promised myself to profit some day by his absence and have a look at his 
cupboard." 

" What cupboard ? " asked Victor. 

" A secret cupboard that I discovered by means of a hole I made in the 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



137 



wall. He used to cram it with things — papers, parcels. I'd got the idea 
of making an inventory of them. But one day comes a client who intro- 
duces himself as a seedsman from Montrouge — " 

"Well?" 

" Well, this client carries me off to the public-house. I don't like drink- 
ing, and consequently I can't stand much of it. He forces me to swallow 
half a dozen glasses of brandy — " 

" Was that all ? " 

"Yes; naturally I go under the table. And do you know who the 
Montrouge seedsman was? A detective, my dear sir, an inspector of 
police." 

" You don't say so ! Well ? " 

" Well, it seems he had made me talk, for two hours afterwards the 
police made a raid on the house. But the guv'nor's a sly dog, as you know. 
He was waiting for them with a cannon. " 

" What ! a caunon ! " cried Victor, amazed. 

" Yes, a cannon, loaded with grape-shot, which he fired at them ; so at 
least the doorkeeper told me the next day, when, having got sober again, I 
came back to the office and found everything upside down, broken, smashed, 
demolished. " 

" And he — Loyal-Francceur ? " 

"He? he had escaped, of course. And it was then they found out 
everything ; that he had murdered a man, carried off a girl, stolen, forged, 
and I don't know what besides. Ah ! when I think that I might have 
been — that I might still be — involved in all this — " 

" But where is he ? Does anyone know ? " 

" Hush ! According to the information furnished by the police, every- 
one thinks he's in Belgium ; but I'm artful too, and I'm certain he hasn't 
left Paris." 

"What?" 

" Hush ! You know he owed me my wages, that he had forgotten to 
pay me before going off. Besides that, he ruined me, the scoundrel, for he 
emptied the celebrated cupboard." 

"Well, you were saying — " 

" I swore vengeance, and all the more because, as I told you when I met 
you, I'm in a terrible fix." 

"Yes, I know, but— " 

"And, for the matter of that, according to what your doorkeeper told me, 
you don't seem to be overburdened with money either." 

' ' No, certainly not. But go on. " 

" Well, I wanted to be revenged on Loyal-Francceur ; I should have 
liked to see him iu quod, dragged before the magistrate in handcuffs. Un- 
fortunately he was in Belgium — at least, according to what they said. " 

" Well, what happened ? " 

" This happened; that I was walking mournfully along the Rue Vivienne, 
when all at once, at the corner of the Rue Colbert — " 

"Goon." 

"I espy a man. Oh ! it was no use his staining his skin and painting 
himself ; a man doesn't work five years for his master and then not know 
him ; and especially ours, who often disguised himself, and whom I was 
used to see ' made ivp. ' " 

" Then you think it was Loyal-Francceur? " 

" I don't think, I'm certain. So I say to myself : you, an honest man, 



138 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

may be involved in this rascal's affairs. If you get the police to nab him, 
that will be a point in your favour. " 

"Well?" 

"Well, I begin to look out for a policeman, of course not losing sight of 
my man. But, as you know, it's always the ease, when you don't want a 
policeman there's always one there, and when you do want one you never 
can find one. And all the time my man is going towards the boulevard. 
I hurry along, determined not to lose sight of him. But when he gets to 
No. 36 Rue Vivienne, he goes in and walks upstairs." 

" Where was he going to there ? " 

" That's what I asked myself. In any case, I waited at the door. Half 
an hour passed ; an hour. No one eame out. I bethink me of a trick that 
he had taught me himself and that he had learnt from Canler, the old 
chief of police. I throw a pocket-book into the mud and take it upstairs : 
' Sir,' I say to the doorkeeper, ' I found a pocket-book on the ground just 
now, and I think it belongs to a gentleman who came in here ; he was tall 
and dark. You couldn't tell me where he went ? ' " 

" ' Oh, my lad,' he says, ' if you want to catch him, you must put on 
your seven-league boots, for it's half an hour at least since he went out 
through the passage.' " 

" What ! by the passage ? " cried Victor, amazed. 

" Yes, by the passage. The house has two exits. My dog of a master 
had recognised me ; and, finding himself followed, had played me a trick." 

" So that all that you did only ended in nothing ? " 

" Excuse me. I know that Loyal-Francceur in Paris ; only, that is 
where I want your advice. I don't know anything about the law ; I don't 
know whether his affairs compromise me. I'm afraid that if I went and 
informed thepolice, I should get myself locked up." 

"That is not probable." 

" Well, truth is stranger than fiction, as the poet says — I don't know 
which one ; Bossuet, I think. If the detective who made me drunk should 
spot me — " 

" Then what do you wish ? " 

" That you, who are not mixed up in his business as I am, should make 
inquiries. If we've nothing to fear, I'll start on the compaign ; I'm certain 
the thief will be prowling about the Bourse ; I shall nab him. " 

"Very well, in a few hours from now I'll give you an answer, for I'm 
going now to Colonel de Rieumes." 

' ' Colonel de Rieumes ! Nonsense. " 

" And if he doesn't kill me, as he has a perfect right to do, I may be able 
to help you." 



XL. 

A PAINFtTL CONFESSION. 

" And supposing I went with you ? " said the humpback 

"You? What to do?" 

" I know the mas — the scoundrel Loyal-Francosur — well. I'm the man 
to find him out, no matter under what disguise he is ; I'll offer my services 
to catch him. I've nothing to do just now, and I want to make something 
to live on." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



139 



" Very well. It s not for me to advise you." 

They walked to the Rue Belleehasse. The nearer they approached, the 
gloomier Victor became. He did not even hear his companion, who was 
chattering away ceaselessly. They arrived at the gates. Victor stopped. 

" I dare not," he muttered, in despair. 

"Come, come!" cried Isidore. "Let me. I'll speak first. I'll engage 
it will go off all right." 

And, saying this, he gave the bell a vigorous pull. The door was opened 
wide, and the porter appeared at the door of his lodge. 

" Colonel de Rieumes? " asked the hump-back. 

" Whom shall I announce ? " 

"Two clerks, late of the Loyal-Francoeur agency, No. 13 Rue des 
Chantres, on a matter of importance," said the little man, with assurance. 

The porter looked at him amazed. But he rang twice, and a footman 
appeared, to whom he imparted the singular recommendation with which 
the visitors had demanded audience. Colonel de Rieumes was in the little 
room where we saw the Comte de Pringy tell Paul Clairac of his journey 
to Charly. The poor colonel no longer visited his studio ; and his garden, 
formerly so carefully looked after, was forgotten now. He remained there, 
passing hours in a state of complete stupor, thinking of his daughter, of his 
Jeanne, whom he still dreamt of seeing again. On returning home that 
evening after a day of fruitless wandering, he had found Clairac and Pringy, 
who were awaiting for him, uneasy at his late return, and fearing some 
fresh catastrophe. 

"The kiss which that child gave me," he said, " has comforted me to 
an extent that I had never expected again. It seemed to me that I had 
found my daughter, and that I was giving her the kiss that she came and 
asked me for every evening before she went to bed. It is strange ; the 
impression has remained with me ; I believe that it will bring me luck, 
that I am going to hear some news of her ; something, I know not what — " 

The door opened. The footman announced the two visitors. 

' ' What did I tell you ? These two men know something, perhaps. 
Quick, quick, show them in ! " 

The footman withdrew. Isidore entered the room first, preceding 
Victor, who was pale and trembling. The humpback, on the contrary, had 
a smile on his lips. He was as proud and full of assurance now, as we 
have seen him humble and timid in his master's waiting-room. He looked 
at the three men, and recognised Pringy. 

' ' Ah ! M. le comte, " said he. ' ' What a lucky chance to meet you again ! " 

" You, here ? " cried Pringy, amazed. 

" Certainly, ready to place myself at your service, if it is in my power, 
and desirous at present to speak to M. de Rieumes. If you would be good 
enough to introduce me — " 

" It is needless," interrupted the colonel ; " what is your pleasure with 
me, gentlemen ? I am Colonel de Rieumes." 

"Then, colonel," said the humpback, putting on an important air, 
" allow me first of all to introduce to you my friend Victor Borin, one of 
the former clerks — " 

" Victor Borin ! " cried Pringy, " why, it was you — you who — " 
" I who signed the birth certificate of the supposed child of Mademoiselle 
de Rieumes. Alas ! yes, sir," said Victor, stepping forward. " And 
unfortunately that is not the only crime that I have to reproach myself 
with." 



140 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" What do you mean?" asked the colonel, who had turned deadly pale. 

"That it was I," murmured Victor, in a low voice, "that it was I who 
helped to carry off your daughter." 

' ' Wretched man ! " shouted the colonel, rushing at him with clenched fists. 

Clairac and Pringy held him back. Victor, on his part, did not move. 

" Wretched, yes, sir, very wretched. Beat me, kill me, hand me over to 
the police," he continued; "I shall not complain, I shall submit to the 
punishment that I have deserved. But, know this, sir ; I am very guilty, 
but I am still more unhappy." 

"But, at least, where is she? What have you done- with her? Tell me 
what has become of her. Give her back to me, and I will forgive all, and 
will bless you," cried the unhappy father, bursting into tears. 

The young man hung his head. 

" Speak ; why don't you speak ? " 

"Alas ! sir, God is my witness that I would give my life to be able tc 
restore your daughter to you. For you do not yet know who I am ; you 
do not know that the girl whom you rescued, whom, an hour since, you 
took back to her mother, that girl was my sister Louise. Well, sir, 
by my mother's head, by my sister's life, I swear to you that I do not 
know what has become of your daughter." 

' ' But that wretch Loyal-Francceur, whose tool you were — " 

" Loyal-Francoeur knows no more than I do." 

"How so?" 

" During the very night following her abduction Mademoiselle de 
Rieumes escaped." 

" Escaped ! " cried Pringy, Paul, and the colonel, with one voice. 

"Escaped, by jumping out of a window, and climbing over a fence. Id 
spite of every effort, Loyal could never find a trace of her." 

"And you? ' 

"I who was ordered to guard her, and who already repented of my evil 
deed, I did not attempt to interfere in her flight. If I had found her, it 
would have been to bring her back here." 

"Oh ! what misfortune and grief would have been avoided ! But why 
did you not make this confession before ! " 

"Alas ! sir, in the first place, because, after having quarrelled with my 
master on the same day that he found out that his prisoner had disappeared, 
I promised on my honour not to betray him ; next, because I was ignorant 
of what had passed, and because it needed your kind action to make me 
abandon the forced neutrality which I had observed." 

"But what was your object ? What interest had vou in doing what you 
-did ? " 

" It is a long and painful confession. Will you hear it ? " 

The colonel made a sign of assent. Victor then shortly related his history. 
He told how, being a young student and mad after pleasure, he had fool- 
ishly squandered the money which his mother had sent him, at the same 
time depriving herself of everything ; how he had contracted debts ; how, 
in order to renew a bill, he had recopied the signatures, saying to 
himself that the credit which was offered him for three months might well 
be extended to six. He would pay, and then all would be safe. But the 
bills had fallen into Loyal-Francceur's hands, who had made him his slave. 
Employed at first at quiet and honest work, he had believed in his bene- 
factor's sympathy ; then he had been required to perform strange tasks, 
Loyal-Francoeur one fine day ordering him to declare himself the father of 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. HI 

a child which a poor deserted girl had just given birth to in Madame 
Broussel's house. 

' ' And you consented ? " asked the colonel. 

"I was obliged to do so. In the first place, I was told that it was a 
matter of no importance. Then, I had brought my mother and sister to 
Paris. They were living happily i?i the little home which you, sir, have 
seen. Could I, with one word, wreck this peaceful existence? And, be- 
sides, what did it matter tome?" 

" And this child is the one at Charly ? " asked Pringy. 

" Yes, sir. But that was nothing. Soon afterwards my master told me 
plainly that the mother (the supposed mother) of the child whose father I 
had declared myself to be was about to leave her home and come to me. He 
told me that she would willingly marry me in order to appear to repair her 
fault, and that I should in this way shortly be the possessor of a fortune. 
' You will give me half of it for my trouble, ' he said, ' and you'll be happy 
into the bargain. ' " 

" And upon what did he base this promise that you should marry this 
girl, who was rich, well-connected, and much above you? How did he 
profess to be able to force her to leave her family, as he had promised you 
he would do ? By carrying her off, no doubt, as you ultimately did ? " 

" No. At first his plan was different. Having — I know not how — pro- 
cured a letter written by Mademoiselle de Rieumes, he had had the writing 
imitated and had thus manufactured a damaging correspondence. By tak- 
ing a wax impression he had produced the De Rieumes' arms. With all this 
he intended to compromise Mademoiselle Jeanne in the eyes of her lover, 
and of the world afterwards, if that was not sufficient, and he promised me 
that, the marriage once broken off, she would only be too happy to accept 
me, me who appeared to be doing her the favour. M. de Pringy's interfer- 
ence altered all these plans. Loyal -Francoeur found in him a medium all 
ready to hand, a voluntary agent who would run less risk of compromising 
the plan and taking all the onus upon himself in case of accidents or dis- 
covery. Thrusting M. de Pringy forward, he risked all to gain all, and 
ordered me to abduct the young lady." 

" And you never thought of revealing this horrible plot ? " 

" I was under the domination of this man ; I dared not plunge my mother 
and sister into misery ; and lastly I did not know the name of this rich girl 
who was to become my wife, or rather my accomplice." 

" And when did you learn it ? " 

" On the day of the abduction. My master brought me to the door of 
this house, gave me a letter and told me what I had to do. Entice a young 
girl out, so as to put her in his power. If there had been a failure he would 
have escaped and I should have been captured. If successful, he was to go 
off in a cab and I was to go and await him in the little house atNogent-sur- 
Marne, where the prisoner was to be lodged until further orders." 

"Well?" 

" Things happened as Loyal-Francceur had arranged. Mademoiselle de 
Rieumes came down. I got her into the cab and hurried to the Vincennes 
station on my way to Nogent. There I received her. Upon my life, sir, I 
treated her with all the respect and all the regard that she deserved. When 
speaking to her I thought of my own sister. I regretted what I had done. 
The next day, when Loyal-Francoeur arrived, she had escaped. There was 
a scene between us, and I left. Only a few minutes since I heard from this 
boy, with whom I came here, what happened afterwards," 



142 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"My friend has finished, allow me to appear again," said the hump- 
back, who had listened in silence to Victor's story, but who was by no means 
unwilling to take up the parable. 

" Speak, sir," said the colonel. 

" You know my modest functions, M. de Pringy. But, in spite of 
them, I knew many secrets, and to you, who had always shown yourself 
kind and generous towards me, I promised a revelation. " 

"What is it?" 

" I wanted to tell you, first of all, that you were being tricked and drawn 
into a snare ; then, that if you would promise me independence later on, I 
would reveal to you a fearful machination against respectable people." 

"And you did not do so ? " 

"I never saw you again. You had been arrested, and I did not know it. 
If it had not been for that, I should have let this cat out of the bag at once, 
for I wasn't so fond of my master, who was always ill-treating me and 
hardly gave me enough to eat. But it was principally the old witch that I 
wanted to have nabbed. " 

"What witch?" 

" Why, Widow Broussel, the guv'nor's mistress. She must have plenty 
on her conscience. But what's done's done, isn't it ? " 

" But can they get nothing out of this woman ? " 

" No. But they can get Loyal-Francceur." 

" What ! didn't he escape ? " 

" Escape ! I met him yesterday in Paris, near the Bourse ; I recognised 
him, and if you like — " 

" We must go and inform the police." 

" Oh, yes, and have us nabbed as accomplices, me and Victor." 

"We promise you impunity, at least for the present, and a handsom 
reward afterwards if you succeed," cried Pringy. 

" Right ! Then that's settled. I'll set out on the war path." T 



XLI. 

WHAT MADAME BROUSSEL WAS DOING. 

Madame Honore Broussel, " the old witch," as the humpback called her 
and there was no love lost between the two — was very sad. Although a 
midwife and a somnambulist, a woman must have a heart just the same. 
And it is just when one is past forty, that this heart, having no longer any 
hope of a resting-place, becomes more easily disconsolate. 

Madame Honors Broussel, midwife and somnambulist, loved Loyal- 
Francoeur, and the absence of " pet " made " ducky " very miserable. The 
caresses of Marquis, the fat, wheezy pug, did not suffice to fill the void which 
the precipitate departure of the inquiry-agent made in Madame Honoris 
eoul. Rum and Kitsch, those two consolations of the united lovers, did 
not heal the wounds of that bleeding heart. What had become of " pet ? " 
He was a fugitive, unhappy, in danger, perhaps. Perhaps, too, he was 
living happily in a foreign land, enjoying, and allowing another than she 
to profit by, the economies which he had promised his " ducky " to share 
with her. Would he ever return, the ungrateful man? One thing only 
consoled Madame Honore" in her bitter grief ; a mysterious adventure which 
had happened to her on the same day as tfie catastrophe which had separated 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 1 43 

her from her fondly loved one. That day her cousin, a worthy rag-picker 
known in the Cit6 Manpy as " Mother Comfort," had asked her to go and 
visit her. Madame Honore Broussel was rather annoyed at this relation- 
ship, which she looked at in the light of a nuisance. There are many 
good folks in Paris who are in the same case, and who blush to have work- 
people in their family, to whom they are glad enough to have recourse in 
time of need. Such is the way of the world. Accordingly, Madame 
Honor6 saw as little of the rag-picking cousin as possible ; but it was 
exactly for that reason that, at the first call, she obeyed the summons, 
fearful lest an ill-timed visit might compromise her. What a deplorable 
effect would have been produced in the Rue Taille-Pain, if a rag-picker 
calling Madame Broussel " cousin " had appeared. The midwife had 
accordingly hurried off to Montmartre, little imagining what "Mother 
Comfort " wanted with her. She had taken Marquis with her, for whom a 
little exercise was necessary, for he was growing too fat. On passing 
through the grand entrance, or rather the breach, which leads to the Cit6 
Maupy, Madame Broussel blew her nose and took from her muff a small 
bottle of smelling-salts, a fact which drew upon her the attention of a young 
rag-picker who was passing. 

" What people ! However can anyone live in such places ? " muttered the 
midwife, sighing. She made her way, nevertheless, to her cousin's house. 
But she only found there an urchin playing at knuckle-bones. 

" Madame Victoire in ? " she asked. 

" Madame Victoire ? Who's that ? Mother Comfort ? she's not here, she's 
with the little lady, at the Bear's." 

" Will you take me there, my little lad ? " 

"I can't, I'm taking care of the house ; but I'll show you it." 

He pointed out Prosper Martin's cabin. The midwife made her way 
thither, grumbling. " What's her game, with her ' little lady ? ' " said she. 
"Well, we shall see." 

Great was her surprise when she pushed open the door of the dwelling. 
On the young rag-picker's bed, well covered up with a woollen blanket, 
was stretched a girl, pale, motionless, and looking like a corpse. At the 
bedside Victoire — Mother Comfort — was preparing a diet drink. Standing 
near, wringing his hands, was a young man in rough working-clothes. 

"Oh ! here you are at last ! " said the rag-picker. 

" What is it ? what's the matter ? " asked the midwife, prudently keeping 
near the door. 

"Well, come in, and I'll tell you." 

" I hope that young woman there hasn't died of an infectious disease? " 

"What, sacrebleu! She isn't dead at all, and, what's more I hope she 
isn't going to die ! " cried the em-vivandih-e. 

" All right, but what's the matter with her ? Here, Marquis !" cried the 
fat woman in terror, seeing her pug go to the bed and stand up on his hind 
legs to look at Jeanne, for it was she who was there. 

"Are you afraid for your dog's sake?" said Prosper Martin, with 
mournful sarcasm. 

' ' How can I tell ? everything stinks so in this sewer, that the poor 
creature might easily take home some infection." 

The rag-picker shrugged his shoulders. Madame Honore Broussel, 
furious at this want of politeness, was about to give him some of her mind, 
but the ex-vivandiere interposed. 

" Mille bombes ! " she cried ; " are you going to have a row now ? Be 



144 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

quiet, Martin ; you must excuse him, cousin, he's a good fellow, but his 
' inducation's ' rather rustic. There, that's enough, you and your clog, 
there's no danger, you must know that if there's any infection, we should 
catch it before you." 

" But tell me—" 

" Mille diables! how can I tell you when you stand there like a stuck pig 
at the open door ? Are you coming in, or are you going to sling your hook?" 

Madame Broussel made up her mind. She entered, and sat down, though 
at a respectful distance from the bed where the patient was lying. 

" Oh, there's nothing to hurt you ! " cried the rag-picker. " Now, listen 
to me." 

" Yes, but who is this girl ? " 

" Oh, if you want to go faster than the fiddles, we shall uever dance in 
time. Let me tell my own story ; you'll know as much as me then. " 

"Goon." 

" Well this girl's a novel. No, that's to say, her adventure's one. She's 
been here six days and we don't know where she comes from." 

" What, you don't know her name?" 

" ' I don't know her name nor her birth,' as the tambour-inajor's wife of 
my regiment used to sing — the brave Sixth of the Line, the heroes of 
Inkermann — but, to return to the girl. Fancy, six days ago — my friend 
Prosper Martin, alias ' the bear,' here present — salute ! conscript ! " 

Martin nodded. 

" My friend Martin, then, was doing his usual philosophical round on 
the outer boulevard. What should he see ? This girl in a faint. He 
picks her up, brings her here, and asks advice of my sagacity what he 
shall do with her." 

"All right; well?" 

"Well, we settled that we'd keep her 'until farther orders,' as the fat 
major used to say when he tied a man up, until which time we're taking 
care of her, like our own child. But we should be glad to know a little 
about her." 

" And was it for that you sent for me ? " 

" ' Exactly so, Bertrand,' as the serjeant-at-arms used to say. We're a 
little separated from the rest of the world here, and I thought that yon, 
who are used to better society than us, might know something. This 
young girl belongs to the aristocrats ; she hasn't got big hands and a 
tanned skin, like us. Now swell young ladies don't run about the streets 
of Paris at night without some serious reason. There's some drama or love 
romance in it all. You read the papers and mix with the swells, and I 
thought you might have heard tell of it. " 

Although Madame Honore Broussel was not quite acquainted with her 
friend's operations, she was not unaware that he was at that time con- 
cocting some grand stroke of business in which a young girl played an im- 
portant part. She had heard him refer to this girl a dozen times, but he 
had never mentioned her name. But this was quite sufficient for the idea 
to strike her at once, that the dying girl who was lying before her on the 
bed had been involved in the adventure through some machination of 
Loyal-Prancoeur's. At any rate, there was some mystery about it, and the 
inquiry-agent could turn mysteries to account. She must therefore not 
let this excellent opportunity pass. 

"You were quite right," said she in a milder voice. "You were quite 
right, my good Victoire, to think of me. I know some people who will be 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



145 



&ble to find out all about this mystery. Trust yourself to me, and, above 
all, don't speak to anyone else about it." 

"No fear!" said the rag-picker. ''Look here, if I'm not learned, I've 
had plenty of experience of the world. It's one of two things ; either this 
girl has run away to escape from cruel parents, and in that case it's not good 
enough to ' round ' on her in the state she is, for fear the excitement should 
kill her ; or else she has been abducted like in the plays at the Porte-Saint- 
Martin, and we must look out she doesn't fall into her enemies' hands 
again. So she mustn't move from here, where there's a whole bafallion to 
defend her, before she is conscious. Unfortunately, she may die with- 
out speaking, and we should be embarrassed and even in fault. That's 
why it would be a good thing to get to know something about her." 

" And this is what you wanted me to do ? Right. I'll undertake it. 
You can count on me. Within a week you shall be posted. " 

The midwife called to Marquis, who had laid himself down under the bed, 
and went out, after bowing to Martin. She was overflowing with secret 
joy at the thought of the surprise which she would give her "pet" by 
telling him what she had seen and heard. Her impatience was so great 
that, in spite of her economical habits, she took a cab for herself and 
Marquis. But "pet" did not come that evening, and the next morning, 
on opening her paper, Madame Honore Broussel came across the account of 
the explosion in the Rue des Chantres and the charge which was hanging 
over M. Loyal-Francceur's head. She narrowly escaped having a fit. Her 
" pet " a criminal, pursued by the police ! What would become of her? 
But there exists between pure souls a bond of sympathy which nothing can 
sunder. Madame Honor6 said to herself that Loyal-Francceur would re- 
turn to her one day, and that, as a gift of welcome, she would tell him 
about the dying girl at the Cite Maupy. Ah ! as we have already said, 
if M. Loyal had only known that ! 

XLIL 

THE MEETING. 

But M. Loyal did not know it. M. Loyal, who had become M. Marius 
Nogale, a native of Auch, in Gascony, was making active preparations 
to resume his place in the hidden life of Paris. M. Marius Nogale 
during a fortnight had contented himself with walking about and with 
taking in the letters which he addressed to himself. At the end of that 
time he began to be tired of this do-nothing life. He went downstairs and 
took his landlady's advice on the subject. 

" Where can I get information as to employing some capital ? " he 
asked. 

So much simplicity amazed the landlady. 

" Why, at the offices of investment of course, sir." 

" They told me at home to be on my guard with them," said M. Nogale 
shrewdly. 

" They were right, perhaps. Then you should look at the Petites 
affiches, the special papers. You wish to settle here, then ? " 

"Yes, if I could find a situation, or a little business to be disposed 
of." 

" What sort of business ? " 



146 DISPATCH AND REOREQT. 

" Oil, that doesn't matter. What I want especially is something to 
occupy me." The truth is that Marius Nogale, or if the reader prefers it, 
M. Loyal-Francceur, in "pursuance of his plan, wanted to establish the fact 
that he was new to Parisian life. Pretending to follow his landlady's 
advice, he dressed himself and said that he was going to the Passage do 
l'Opera, to consult the Petites affiches and advertisements, in a reading- 
room. After a careful examination of his hair and face, after having 
satisfied himself that he was perfectly unrecognisable, he walked as far as 
the Place Clichy and followed the outer boulevard in order to gain the 
Place Pigalle, where he intended to take an omnibus. His plan was to 
profit by his metamorphosis to take a little turn round the old neighbour- 
hood, to see what was going on in the Rue des Chantres, to try and learn 
something, and, in sum, to satisfy himself that no one knew him, and 
whether he could really walk freely about Paris on any future foccasion. 
M. Loyal-Francceur was a man of boundless audacity. He had become 
interested in the game, and the bold idea had grown upon him of settling, 
under his new name, in the Rue des Chantres, in his old offices ! Auda- 
cious it was, but perhaps not so much so as one might imagine. Who 
could boast of knowing well M. Loyal-Francceur's real face ? He generally 
appeared before his clients a bent old man with white hair, or else a man 
of a certain age. In any case, whatever appearance he assumed, his 
shining green eyes, which would have been noticed at once, were always 
hidden by spectacles which dimmed their keenness. Who, then, in the 
young copper-coloured, south-countryman would recognise the Loyal- 
Francceur of former days ? The police ? The police ! — wculd they even 
dream of looking for the fugitive in the Rue des Chantres ? 

"Well, it's settled," he said to himself, turning the corner of the 
boulevard. ' ' I'll walk quietly along as far as the Pont-Neuf ; from there 
I'll follow the quay, taking my precautions, and gain the Hotel-de-Ville. 
If the Rue des Chantres, as I imagine will be the case, is not guarded by 
police — there's no work for them there, at any-rate — I'll walk boldy in and 
ask the doorkeeper about the rooms. If she seems to recognise me, I'm off. 
If not, I'll take the place. I'll set up at first an office for the buying of 
pawn-tickets ; then I'll gradually get into business again. In six months 
from now we shall have new circulars out : " ' No 13, Rue des Chantres ; 
late firm of Loyal-Francceur, Marius Nogale, of Auch, successor.' The 
police will never think of coming to disturb me ; unless — Ha, ha, ha ! " 
He had a fit of laughing which lasted a full minute. 
" Unless it were to ask me to help them in the matter of information 
which my predecessor's clients might furnish ! Ha, ha, ha ! that would be 
too funny ! Well, and why not ? It would be my passport. I should 
have in that a certain assurance of impunity and tranquillity all my life. 
I've already put them on one false scent ; they'd find they'd have plenty 
more of the same," 
He reflected for a moment, then : 

" After all," he continued, " I shall never do what the political police do 
every day of their lives. When one thinks that the Government main- 
tains, in societies, clubs, and papers, highly paid detectives who are 
charged with informing it of everything that's said and done ! _ Whatever 
can the poor wretches put in their reports ? If they've nothing to say, 
they get sworn at ; so they invent ! And that's how the ratepayers' 
money is squandered. Our money, for, after all, I'm a ratepayer. What 
waste ! what ruin ! Ah, if I was only prefect of police, or a minister ! 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



147 



In hie excitement M. Marius Nogale had feverishly brandished his 
umbrella. The end of it grazed the ample bosom of a fat lady who, coming 
from the direction of the Rue Lepic, had just entered the boulevard. 

" Take care, clumsy ! " exclaimed the woman in a furious voice. 

M. Loyal started in surprise. He knew that voice. The fat lady whom 
he had touched with his umbrella was none other than Madame Honor£ 
Broussel, who was just returning from a fresh visit to the Cit6 Maupy. If 
ever there was an opportunity for testing his disguise, this was it. 
Approaching the majestic midwife, he muttered a few words of excuse. 
But his humble air had no other result than that of making Madame 
Broussel more arrogant still. 

-' If you don't know how to hold an umbrella, you shouldn't carry one," 
said she drily. - ' There, look out ! you're going to tread on my dog's paw, 
you ugly nigger ! " 

M. Loyal-Francceur was delighted. Madame Broussel herself did not 
recognise him. 

"Ducky," he murmured in his most caressing voice, approaching her 
ear. But she gave a shriek like that of a startled guinea-fowl. 

"Insolent fellow ! Go away, wretch, or I'll call a policeman — that is to 
say, if I can find one. Good gracious ! what does a woman expose herself to 
when she goes out alone in Paris ! " 

" Ducky, it's me, I tell you ; don't you know my voice ? " 

" Ah ! Good gracious ! " cried Madame Broussel, pale with real agitation 
this time, " you, why, so it is. But how, by what lucky chance — ? " 

"Be quiet, we'll meet again later on. There's a crowd collecting." 

This was true. The quarrel between the " nigger " and the "fat women," 
to which was added the barking of Marquis, had attracted the attention of 
two or three street urchins. One of them, a pastry-cook's boy who was 
carrying on his head a hot pie and ought probably to have been in a great 
hurry, had already approached to take a part in the dispute. Several 
loiterers stopped. Too many people would have been dangerous for Loyal- 
Francceur. 

" Walk on," he whispered in Madame Broussel's ear, " I'll catch you up.' 
Then, bowing respectfully to her, he walked up the Rue Lepic, to the great 
vexation of the spectators, followed the Rue Veron, the Rue Germain- 
Pillon, and arrived at the Place Pigalle, where he awaited his anxious 
" ducky." She arrived and would have thrown herself in his arms but he 
prevented her. 

" Don't gush," he said quickly, "give me your arm and come along. It 
won't do for me to be recognised. " 

" Ah ! my dear, what a surprise ! I was frantic at having had no news 
from you since that fatal day ; I've so much to tell you. " 

' ' And I too. But is your house safe ? Can I go there without being 
arrested ? " 

" I think so ; besides you're so well disguised." 

"Then you wouldn't have recognised me? " 

" Why, even now that I know all about it, I'm wondering whether it's 
you. If it hadn't been for your voice — " 

" Well, tell me this, have the police bothered you ? " 

" A little, not much ; they made a search, but they found nothing. As 
to the examination — " 

"What did they ask you ? " 

" About everything, about the child, about you, the girl — Ah ! "she cried 



148 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

striking her forehead. " Talking about the girl, where do you think I've 
just come from? " 

' ' However should I know ? " 

" Ah, my dear, what a splendid chance ? Listen ; when you went away, 
you had some affair in hand that a girl was mixed up in, hadn't you ? " 

" Yes," said M. Loyal-Francceur, with a touch of bitterness, " a young 
girl that I had ' put away,' and who escaped, robbing me of the fruits of a 
splendid combination. " 

" Well, I believe I know where she is." 

"Impossible ! " 

In spite of himself, Loyal- Francceur had uttered this exclamation in a very 
loud voice, so loud that several people turned round. He noticed this and 
said in a more moderate tone of voice : 

" Tell me all about it, quick ! " 

The midwife told him how, on the same day that the " catastrophe " in 
the Rue des Chantres happened, she was at the Cit6 Maupy, where she had 
been summoned by her cousin the ex-vivandiSre ; how she had found the 
young girl suffering from meningitis who had been picked up in the middle 
of the night on the Boulevard Clichy or Rochechouart. 

" On what day ? Did they say on what day ? " cried the inquiry agent 
anxiously. 

" Why, just before you went— two, three, four days, I think." 

"It's she. The devil has given her into my hands again ! Come, there 
are good days in store for clever people, and I won't throw up the game. 
But the girl is ill you say ? " 

" I should think so ! — meningitis. At her age it is fatal in nineteen cases 
out of twenty." 

" And is she well attended to ? " 

" Oh, these rag-pickers are good folks ; they do what they can. But the 
business is a fearful one and the air poisonous, both of which things are not 
favouarble for anyone's recovery." 

" Saperlotle ! you frighten me. She mustn't die. It's most important she 
shouldn't." 

" But—" 

" No buts. We must get her out of it ; have the best doctors to her and 
neglect nothing, nothing, nothing. She must, I tell you, she must get well. " 

" Goodness me, who is the girl? If you were her father you couldn't do 
more. 

" Her father ! better than that. She represents to ine sum of two hun- 
dred thousand francs. " 

Madame Honors Broussel was silent. Such genius overpowered her. 

"Come, no beating about the bush," continued Loyal- Francoeur, " I must 
see this girl and take the necessary steps to safeguard my interests." 

" But how will you arrange it? " 

" That's my look out. Only do as I tell you, and all will go well," 

" But you're not afraid of risking yourself ? ' 

" Yes. But I shall take my precautions," 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



XLIII. 



M. MARIUS TAKES UP HIS QUARTERS. 



U9 



If he had only consulted his own wishes M. Loyal-Francoeur would have 
gone on the spot to visit the patient. But unfortunately everything has its 
drawbacks, and if the southern skin which he had factitiously adopted was 
useful for purposes of disguise, it was, for the purpose of his new plans, too 
easily recognisable, and, consequently, dangerous. He wanted to go and 
visit Jeanne at the Cit6 Maupy, in order to take measures to get possession 
of her again. Now, to go there in his present condition would be to cause 
himself to be noticed by all the inhabitants of the Cit6, and, in the case of 
fresh trouble with the police, to risk having a hundred witnesses to give 
evidence against him. But he could not get rid of the confounded yellow 
stain in a few hours. Alcindor had not deceived him as to the quality, and 
the colour was all the deeper, for this reason, that, intending to go out, M. 
Loyal-Franooeur had applied some fresh to the places where it was beginning 
to fade. If Marius Nogale's skin protected M. Loyal-Francoeur, in return 
it put a veto on any fresh disguise. He would have to wait, then, until the 
dye had faded off. 

" Well, look here," said M. Loyal-Francceur, "is there danger in her 
stopping there ? What is her present condition ? " 

" Complete torpor. The comatose state which constitutes the first stage 
of the disease. She knows no one and does not move." 

" And that may last ? " 

" About a fortnight altogether, that is to say, seven or eight days from 
to-day." 

"And after that?" 

" Oh, I can't answer for afterwards. That's a matter for the doctor, or 
rather for chance. She may die, she may live, she may remain an idiot. " 

" That would be the best for me. But, at present, she can't be moved 
without danger ? " 

" Oh, impossible ! No doctor would allow it." 

" Splendid ; then there's no fear of them taking her away from me. Now, 
two things are still necessary." 

" What are they ? " 

" That she should not speak." 

"Oh, you can set your mind at rest. I've often seen cases like this in 
the hospital. When the patient begins to come to himself he's not able to 
understand what's going on, and if he does understand a little he can't ex- 
press his thoughts. For the next fortnight, at least — looking at her present 
state — I can answer for her silence." 

" Good. The next thing is, that the family must not be informed." 

"No fear. I've undertaken that part of the business. I shall begin by 
telling them that I have a clue, that I know the parents, but that I must 
be careful how I tell them of their daughter's condition. " 

" Only speak of one parent, and don't speak for a few days." 

' ' A few days. And the parent, who is it ? " 

' ' Why, me, of course. Unfortunately, I can't play the part just at present, 
and, more than that, when once I've begun, I can't keep it up long." 

"Why not?" 

"I'm just about to start a business on my present appearance. I niust 



150 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

be constantly seen. Do you know a good place where, at the proper moment, 
I can ' make up ' a fresh face." 

" Of course, at my house." 

"Thanks, and be nabbed. The house must besurrounded by detectives." 

" Not at all. I haven't seen one. " 

" Do you think they walk about with placards on their backs ? No, for 
the present at least, I'll dispense with putting in an appearance in the Rue 
Taille-Pain." 

"Then I don't see—" 

"Wait a moment. In order to look after the girl, you'll have to go 
often to the Cite' Maupy, won't you ? " 

" Every day, if you like." 

" Every other day, that'll be enough. We must not overdo anything. 
Well, every other day, at four o'clock, I'll meet you here, in the Place 
Pigalle, and we'll go off together, talking. " 

" And if I had something important to tell you ? " 

" Write to M. Marius Nogale, the Sailors' Hotel, Rue des Batignolles. 
That's my new name, a name that I shall certainly stick to. " 

" Marius Nogale," said the midwife, trying to fix the name in her mind — 
" Marius Nogale, Rue des Batignolles." 

"Here, here's one of my cards, anyway." 

He held out a magnificent new card, a card, done " while you wait," at 
one franc and a-half, a masterpiece of a neighbouring printer. Madame 
Broussel clasped it tenderly to her breast. 

" Now, the day after to-morrow, and let's each go our own way." 

" Pet ! " 

"What now?" 

" Won't you kiss me before leaving me ? " 

"The devil! We've got something else to do than waste our time in 
foolery. Well, quick, when no one's looking." 

He pressed his lips lightly on the midwife s blotchy cheeks and returned 
quickly to his room to reflect. He thought he must be dreaming. What 
a stroke of luck ! To suddenly find by chance the girl who had escaped 
from him and who, indirectly, by irritating him, had urged him to 
commit so many follies. For, if it had not been for this escape, he would 
not have lost his temper with Madame Wilson and would not, through a 
series of unlucky circumstances, have gone the length of killing the goose 
with the golden eggs and have been obliged to hide himself to avoid the 
unpleasant attentions of the police. 

"The real author of all my woes," he said to himself, "is this girl; 
it's the least she can do to help to indemnify me." 

It was necessary to find some plan, and this was the one he decided on. 
To buy or establish an office in the suburbs as soon as possible ; a registry, 
copying, consulting office, it mattered little which ; to establish himself, 
at any rate, so as to inspire confidence. Then to make himself up there as 
an old gentleman ; to pass himself off as the girl's father ; to go and see 
her two or three times ; to carry her off, and inform the father, so as to 
obtain from him a handsome sum in exchange for his long-lost daughter. 
It was a return to his first project, with a little more risk, it is true. But 
a man must do what he can, and, above all, adapt himself to circumstances. 

M. Loyal carefully perused the Petites Affiches. Near Baiignolleg, at the 
bottom of the Avenue de Clichy, was a small registry office to let. He 
went thither ; the shop was kept by an old fellow, who, thinking there was 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



151 



some business attached to it, had given three hundred and fifty francs for 
it six months before. He asked two hundred francs, and would have been 
pleased to take one hundred and fifty. M. Loyal looked at the place. 
There was a tiny office, at the back of which was another room. Then a 
kitchen opening into a large garden. There was no window looking on the 
garden, and, consequently, no prying eyes could peer into the kitchen. It 
was exactly what he wanted. Fortune was certainly smiling on him now, 
in return for his ill luck in the past. The kitchen was a buen-retiro, 
expressly made to lodge his prisoner in. He settled the affair on the spot, 
gave the delighted old man two hundred francs, and had the agreement 
drawn up by a solicitor in the Rue Nollet. This done, he moved in, bought 
two beds at one broker's, a desk and set of drawers at another, and had 
a magnificent placard painted as follows : 

REGISTRY OFFICE. 
For Clerks, Servants, and Workmen of every kind. 



Pawntickets bought 

Stocks and Shares sold 

M. Marius (of Auch), Manager, 

And, taking his post behind a wicket in front of which no one ever appeared 
he awaited events. 

It may be mentioned that, in spite of this arrangement, M. Marius 
Nogale had not deserted the Sailors' Hotel, where he continued to sleep 
and take his meals. As had been, agreed, Madame Broussel kept him 
informed as to Jeanne's condition, and, to his great satisfaction, it continued 
to improve. Having begun with a severe brain fever, the disease which 
had attacked her yielded more readily than ordinary meningitis. 

M. Loyal-Francceur, gradually altering his places of meeting, had begun 
little by little to venture into the neighbourhood of the Hotel-de-Ville. 
He had even visited Madame Broussel two or three times, being careful to 
ask the doorkeeper for " Madame Honore, somnambulist," and, each time, he 
had noticed with pleasure that, deceived by his tawny complexion and his 
accent, the doorkeeper gave him, as a foreigner, the most minute directions. 
He would have been able to go and call on the Comte de Pringy, or the 
chief of police himself, without fear of detection. He was returning, then, 
from taking Madame Broussel home, and was making his way, with joy in 
his heart, to his office in the Avenue Clichy, when, at the Place de la 
Bourse, he found himself face to face with his former clerk, Isidore. He 
noticed that the latter looked at him in a curious way. Cleverer, in fact, 
than any of the others, the hump-back had recognised him. Loyal-Francceur 
had no doubt on the subject when he saw Isidore turn round and follow 
him. The danger was imminent. The slightest altercation might attract 
a crowd, or engage the attention of the police, when he would have been 
immediately arrested. If he allowed himself to be followed, whither should 
he lead Isidore ? To his hotel, to his office ? It would have been surrender- 
ing at discretion. If the incident had happened a little sooner, M. Loyal 
would not have been so embarrassed. He could have entered a station, 
and jumped into the first train, getting out afterwards in such a way as to 



152 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

rid himself of his persecutor. But he had Jeanne to look after just at 
present. A happy thought struck him. Between the Rue Vivienne and 
the Passage des Panoramas, he knew of some houses with two exits. He 
hurried along. The hump-back himself has told Victor how this trick 
succeeded. 

XLIV. 

M. loyal-franccedr's remorse. 

That night M. Loyal-Francceur slept badly, or, to be more exact, he did 
not sleep at all. This man who had passed his existence in taking advantage 
of his fellow-creatures, with whom roguery, theft, forgery, and crime were 
natural incidents ; this man of prey, whose peaceful nights the shedding of 
blood did not disturb, this man was, for the second time, haunted by 
sleeplessness. The first occasion had been the evening when, on his return 
from the little house at Nogent, after having discovered Jeanne's flight, he 
had found the door of Dolores' house shut. This deceit and his own con- 
sequent rage had fevered his blood ; but he had consoled himself by dreaming 
of revenge, by swearing to find the Spanish woman again ; by reflecting 
that he could afterwards make her pay a hundred times more dearly for 
her deceit of the moment. Now he had no remedy ; he was frightened. 
Frightened ! And, in spite of his mind, fertile in expedients, he could find 
no remedy for the situation. He could no longer say, as he had said the 
day before, that luck was smiling on him ; the contrast was terrible. 

" I did wrong," he said to himself, turning over and over in his bed. 
"I did wrong. That little Isidore is avaricious and greedy; I ought to 
nave acted firmly with him, and, by means of a few louis, I should have 
been rid of him. True, he might have returned to the charge, but — then — 
then — I should have found a way of shutting his mouth. " He reflected 
for a moment. "It would have been a good plan," he continued, " to let 
him follow me, entice him into some deserted alley, and twist his neck 
like a fowl. But there, I'm certainly getting old ; I've got no pluck, I 
ought to retire from business. Retire ! Can I do it ? I'm discovered now ; 
the wretched fellow recognised me under this disguise which I thought 
was so safe. And I, who was talking about going back to the Rue des 
Chantres, of setting up business again, of — There ! it's enough to drive me 
off my head. My head ; yes, it's my head that I should lose if I was cap- 
tured now, and in a very unpleasant way. Ugh ! I who talked of M. 
Deibler to poor Dolores, and now I'm talking about him in reference to 
myself.' 

M. Loyal-Francceur stopped suddenly. He had heard a knock at the 
hotel door. A sound of voices reached him. Hardly knowing what he 
did, he snatched up his clothes ; in the twinkling of an eye he was dressed 
and standing in front of the door, a revolver in one hand and a knife in the 
other, prepared to sell his life dearly. A heavy step ascended the stairs. 
Then he heard the conversation of people coming up. It was simply a 
guest who had arrived and whose luggage the waiter was bringing up. 
M. Loyal-Francceur gave a sigh of relief. He turned round. The looking- 
glass over the chimney-piece reflected his frightened face. 

"Fool that lam!" he said, " if anyone had seen me through the window, 
it would have been quite sufficient to arouse suspicion. And my candle not 
out. Another thing which might make anyone wonder. " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



153 



He blew out the light hurriedly and threw himself dressed on the bed. 
Then the darkness was lit up ; he saw an immense crowd of men assembled 
in front of a low-walled and gloomy-looking tomb. The first row of men 
was composed of soldiers, police, and detectives. In the midst of the circle 
was an instrument like a large sewing machine, surmounted by two beams. 
By the side of this machine stood a man of medium height, with an iron- 
grey beard. He recognised this man, as he recognised the instrument, as 
he recognised the spot. 

" The guillotine ! " he groaned in agony. 

He sprung up again and lit the candle. He preferred this light which 
might be noticed, to the darkness which caused such terrible visions. Day- 
break found him worn out with fatigue, and powerless to collect his 
thoughts or hit on any plan. He went downstairs, timid and trembling. 
The landlady at her counter appeared to him like a judge on the bench. 

' ' Have you been ill, M. Nogale ? " she asked, with a gracious smile. ' ' We 
heard you moving about all night, and your candle was alight." 

The remark was simply meant as a kindly attention on the part of the 
good woman. It sounded in his ears like the last trump. He turned his 
face away, for he felt himself turn pale under his paint. He dared not speak , 
he was afraid of betraying himself. However, he made an effort, for some 
sort of answer was necessary. 

" Yes, yes," he stammered, " I received a letter from home yesterday 
evening, bringing bad news of — of — my parents." 

" Are they ill ? " 

"Yes," he replied quickly, like a drowning man catching at a straw. 
" Yes, my mother is ill, very ill." 

" Ah, I can understand that upsetting you ; it shows you have a good 
heart." 

' ' And I shall, perhaps, be obliged to go this evening or to-morrow — it 
will depend on the telegram that I shall get— I'm just going to the telegraph 
office." 

" Poor man ! Go quick, and let's hope the news will be good." 

Loyal went out. But, once in the street, his terrors took possession of 
him again. If the humpback, in spite of his precautions, had followed him, 
if he was watching him round the corner, if he should find himself face to 
face with him. But there was no one in the street, and by degrees the 
fresh air and the cold helped to compose him. His ideas became clearer 
and more precise ; he tried to think out some fresh plan. According to his 
first idea the office in the Avenue de Clichy was to serve to conceal 
Mademoiselle deRieumes, whom he intended to make not only a hostage as 
against the ransom but a guarantee against the attentions of the police. 
An orderly citizen again, living quietly in his office, having manufactured 
for himself, from the point of view of the police, a new virginity, he would 
have waited calmly till the time came for negotiating the affair, and after- 
wards retiring far from Paris and living on his hardly-earned income. He 
could not think of this now. Paris was dangerous for him. Isidore 
might see him at his wicket ; his ' new skin ' was worn out. He must act, 
then, act at once, without losing a minute, and consider the consequences 
later. Shaking off his terrors, Loyal-Francceur entered a tailor's shop in 
the Avenue de Clichy and bought a suit of black clothes. He had them 
made up into a parcel and returned to the Sailors' Hotel. 

" Well ? " asked the landlady. 

"Well, my dear lady, I must go. My poor mother is dying." 



154 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" You have had a telegram? " 

" Yes, there was one waiting at the office for me." 

" It's very annoying." 

" Yes, just when I'm beginning to settle down. Well, it can't be helped. 
I shall go by this evening's express. I'm profiting by the opportunity to 
take a suit of clothes to my old father. " 

"That's very good of you." 

" Oh, it'll please him, poor old fellow. By-the-bye, you'll keep my room 
for me, won't you ? " 

" Of course, with pleasure. When shall you come back ? " 

"I don't know. Shall I pay my bill ? " 

" Oh, it doesn't matter," protested the good woman. 

"Yes, yes. There's no knowing what may happen. I like to be in 
order. " 

M. Marius Nogale paid his bill, went up to pack his valise and sent for a 
cab. 

" I sha'n't come in again before I go," he said. " I have a lot of things 
to do. You know, when anyone is obliged to go away in a hurry — " 

Once in the cab, M. Loyal was at his ease. He gave the driver the 
address of his office in the Avenue de Clichy. He got out there, paid his 
fare, and went and shut himself in his back room. At the end of an hour 
he came out again, completely metamorphosed. By dint of washing, the 
yellow tinge had disappeared. M. Loyal's skin was now pink, a trifle 
pale, and marked with the red and blue veins such as old men have. His 
hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes were white ; a heavy white moustache, long, 
and spreading over his cheeks, adorned his upper lip, and was matched by 
an imperial of the same colour. As for his body, he had a slight stoop, 
but, thanks to some clever padding, he had gained in thickness what he 
had lost in height. A large red rosette adorned the button-hole of his frock- 
coat. At a short distance anyone would have sworn it was Colonel de 
Bieumes. He carried in his hand the celebrated bag, and walking a little 
way down the avenue he espied an empty cab which he hailed and drove to 
Madame Broussel's. The midwife was expecting him ; on hearing his well- 
known ring, she came and opened the door ; but she started back in 
wonder at the sight of this individual, whom she took for a stranger. 

"Come, come, ducky," said M. Loyal, with his own smile ; "I see my 
disguise has succeeded again. You were expecting a yellow man, and I've 
turned up white." 

" It's marvellous ! What a talent you have for it!" cried Madame 
Broussel, with admiration. 

" You think so ? Well, some one saw through my other make-up which 
surprised you so much. I was followed yesterday. " 

"No! who by?" 

"ByZidore." 

"Ah! the little scoundrel !" cried Madame Broussel. "I always told 
you, pet, that you were harbouring a serpent in your bosom. Humpties are 
always full of vice, you know." 

"Well, I was nearly collared. So I've made up my mind to push things 
on and make an end of the affair to-day. You're not expecting any one? " 

"Only you." 

" Then I can remain here safely ? " 

" Certainly. If any one rings, don't open the door. And, besides, there 
are the boarders' rooms, at a pinch." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



155 



" Yes, I could hide there and, if the police came, get into bed and pass 
myself off as a girl who had been seduced." 

"Get along with you !" said Madame Broussel, bursting with laughter. 
" What a man it is ! joking at a time like this ! " 

" What then? That's better than crying. Well, to return to business. 
You are dressed, put on your hat and go and get a cab." 

" For you?" 

" No, silly — for yourself. Tell the man to drive you to La Villette- 
circus. Then go up the Rue Secretan. When you get to the middle, ask 
for Monsieur Boudillon, the Herculean Charlatan Physician — " 

" Monsieur Boudillon. Well?" 

"Tell him that you come from me, and that I want his trap — not the 
' in-and-out,' the other one, the cab." 

" All right. At what time ? " 

" At six exactly, here, at your house." 

" Eight, I'll go. Wait breakfast for me ; if you want anything, you know 
where the keys are. " 

"Yes, go along, go along." 

Madame Honore Broussel hurried away. Once alone, M. Loyal-Fran- 
cceur stretched himself on the sofa and began to think. And as he 
was very tired from his restless night, and feeling rather more comfortable 
about the chances of an arrest, he soon went off to sleep, the calm sleep of 
the just. 

XLV. 

A BOLD STROKE. 

At six o'clock precisely Alcindor Boudillon, dressed as a coachman, pulled 
up, cracking his whip, in front of Madame Honore Broussel's house. 
The two lovers were finishing dinner. M. Loyal-Francceur took a glance 
at his disguise in the glass, in order to make sure that nothing was wrong, 
took up his celebrated bag and prepared to go downstairs as soon as 
Madame Honore Broussel had put on her hat with its gaudy flowers. 

"Take a few toilet necessaries," said M. Loyal; " a little parcel: it's 
probable we sha'n't come back here to-night." 

" Shall I take Marquis, then ? " 

" It's not worth while, he would be in the way, and might make it awk- 
ward for us. Come, hurry up, let's be off ! " 

They went downstairs. After the indispensable glance up and down 
the street, M. Loyal-Francceur approached Boudillon, who was sitting 
bolt upright on the box, and gave him a few instructions in a whisper. 
Then he rejoined Madame Broussel, who had already taken her seat in the 
cab, and they drove off. Alcindor's horse was a good one, and they soon 
arrived at the Cite Maupy. The grand camp of the rag-pickers is more 
picturesque after nightfall than by day-light. The night is for these great 
purifiers of the pavements of Paris their real time for work, and it is a 
curious sight to see them start off, lantern in hand, forming in this way 
arabesques of little lights, looking from a distance like will-o'-the-wisps, 
rising, falling, intermingling in their fanciful course in the midst of the 
perfect darkness of the caravansery. The cab entered the Cite and, follow- 
ing Madame Broussel's instructions, drew up at Prosper Martin's house. 
The midwife knocked at the door, which opened. Prosper and "Mother 



156 DISPATCH AXD SECRECY. 

Comfort" were there with Jeanne. As Madame Broussel had said, 
Mademoiselle de Rieumes was almost convalescent, physically at least ; for 
the still enfeebled brain had not yet recovered all its clearness. At times 
the young girl was quite composed ; she could talk almost rationally. But, 
as soon as any one tried to question her, at the slightest allusion to the 
adventure which had caused her illness, her brain became confused and 
fearful hallucinations attacked her. Then followed a long stupor, from 
which she took some time to recover. Accordingly the doctor had ex- 
pressly forbidden them to put any question whatever to her, until it 
was certain that her mind would not be affected by it. Jeanne had 
just gone to bed, for, in consequence of the fine weather, she had been 
able to get up and take a few steps out of doors, supported on one side by 
the good Prosper, and on the other by the ex-vivandidre. She was in a state 
of semi-slumber when Madame Broussel entered. 

"Well, my friends," said the midwife in a joyous voice, "I have suc- 
ceeded. I have brought the little one's father, who has come to fetch her." 

" Her father ! " cried Prosper — " Where is he ? " 

" There, in the cab. The good man — an old colonel — is rather ill. His 
daughter's little freak — for it was a freak — settled him. He has no use in 
his legs now. So, although he's dying to embrace his child, he can't move 
an inch. There he is, look, look how he's reaching out of the window ! " 

Loyal-Francceur, in fact, was struggling and thrusting his body out of 
the cab, showing in the dusk his grey moustache and his rosette of an 
officer of the Legion of Honour. 

" Crehleul he's the right sort. And we not to go and shake him by the 
hand ! that would be coming it rather too strong ! " cried the ex-vivandiere. 
She rushed to the cab and seized the pretended colonel's hand. 

" Excuse me, comrade ! " she said, in a comically emphatic voice. "But, 
without knowing one another, we must have been pretty close together on 
more than one battlefield. I was in the Crimea, colonel, in the brave Sixth 
of the Line ; I was carrying my barrel at the side of poor Colonel de 
Camas, when he was killed, trying to recover our colours, that the 
Russians had captured, and his successor, Colonel Granchette — who started 
as a journeyman shoemaker, and died with epaulettes- — promised me a 
medal. If ever you've heard talk of Victoire Roussel, that's me, as large 
as life." 

" Colonel Granchette," said Loyal-Francceur, in a voice which he tried 
to render affected. " Yes, I knew him — a brave man. We've often fought 
side by side, I in the Chasseurs, he at the head of his regiment. My good 
woman, let us embrace one another ; old comrades can't do less." 

" Ah ! colonel ! " cried " Mother Comfort," bursting into teal's. 

" I embrace you with the more pleasure," continued the false colonel, 
" that I have just heard from your good cousin with what devotion and 
self-denial you have tended my poor daughter." 

"We only did our duty, colonel, and your words are reward enough for 
us. So I shall ask the favour of a shake of your hand for this good fellow, 
an old soldier too — advance conscript ! — who was the first to help your 
young lady, by picking her up out of the road where she had fallen, and 
bringing her here." 

" Your hand, friend, your hand ! " cried Loyal-Francceur, keeping up 
the comedy. " What a nuisance ! this confounded gout keeps me sticking 
here, like a poor pensioner, and prevents me from going to embrace 
my dear child ! What folly ! to run away, because I thwarted her wishes ! 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



157 



She shall marry whom she likes. Bring her to me, my friends, I can 
hardly see her from here." 

" One moment, colonel," replied the ex-vivandihe. " The doctor has for- 
bidden any excitement. We must go and prepare her for it gently." 
" Do so, my friends, do so, that I may see my darling child again." 
"Mother Comfort" was already at Jeanne's side. With a thousand 
tender precautions she spoke to her of her father who loved her, who 
bemourned her, who forgave her fault, who was there, trembling, and not 
daring to speak to her. Jeanne looked at her with haggard eyes. At 
last she appeared to understand, raised her head, looked in the direction of 
the door and, seeing Loyal-Francceur's ruddled face in the distance, 
uttered a shriek and fell down in a swoon. 

" Ah ! good Lord ! she's dead ! " cried the inquiry-agent. 
"No, the excitement was too much far her, that's all. It won't be any- 
thing serious, '' said the rag-picker, slapping Jeanne's hands. 

" Suppose we took advantage of this swoon, to carry her into the cab ? " 
said Madame Broussel, who wanted the business concluded. 

" You speak sense, cousin. Once in the cab, her father will be able to 
console her. ' 

" My daughter, my darling daughter ! " blubbered Loyal-Francoeur, 
shuffling about in the cab. With endless precautions Jeanne was lifted up 
and placed on the cushions of the cab. The false colonel took her in his 
arms and covered her with kisses, whilst Madame Broussel, getting care- 
fully in, sat down so as to support her on the other side. They were 
about to start when, seeming suddenly to start from a dream, Loyal- 
Francoeur addressed the ex-vivandtire. " Ah, madame," said he, " I have 
forgotten ; forgive me. What you have done for my daughter cannot be 
repaid with gold ; but you have had expenses, you have stinted yourself 
for her ; let me offer you — " 

" Colonel ! " protested the rag-picker, with dignity. 
"No, old comrade, do not look at it thus. I am not paying you for 
your devotion and friendship. I only want to refund what you have 
spent. Here are ten louis. I have no more with me. But if any one of 
you is in difficulty, in want of money, in trouble with the police, let hin! 
come and knock at my house, in the Rue Bellechasse ; he will always find 
a hand ready to clasp his, a man willing to give him help and protection. " 

"Oh, if it's like that, we accept," said "Mother Comfort," seizing 
Loyal-Francoeur by the hand whilst Martin bowed in a sad and em- 
barrassed manner. 

"And now, we must be off," said the midwife. "Driver, Rue de 
Bellechasse. " 

Alcindor, who had received his instructions in advance, cracked his whip 
and the cab drove off. They rounded the hill, arrived at the Rue Lepic, 
and came out on th e Boulevard de Clichy ; but there, instead of going 
down into Paris, the cab turned to the left and followed the boulevard, 
in the direction of La Villette. They passed along the Rue Secr^tan, 
turned up the little lane and pulled up at the side of the mountebank's " in- 
and-out." The reader knows the kind of contrivance which in the 
language of those wanderers is called an in-and-out. It is one of those 
large vehicles which serve ordinarily as the proprietor's dwelling, but in 
which, at fair-times, the show is held. As there is only one phenomenon 
for the public to see the performance has no fixed time for beginning and 
ending ; people are constantly going in and out, and hence the name "in- 



158 DISPATCH AND SECRBOT. 

and-out," given to the exhibition and, from that, to the vehicles of the 
charlatans, somnambulists, exhibitors of savages, calves with two heads, 
cats with trunks, etc. Alcindor got down first, took one of the lamps 
from the cab and entered his waggon. In a trice he shook up his bed, and, 
hanging the lamp on a wall, went out again Loyal- Francceur and he 
lifted Jeanne, who was still unconscious, and carried her into the waggon. 
They placed her on the bed which the mountebank had just arranged. 
The midwife felt her pulse and examined her. 

" There's nothing wrong, "she said. "Whenshe comes round, she will be 
just as she was before Now, what are we going to do ? " 

' ' We ? We must manage, all three of us, to make shift here as well as 
we can for to-night." 

" What ! we're not going back to any place ? " 

" And get arrested? No fear. Duriug a campaign one mustn't be too 
particular about the accommodation. One must suit one's self to the times. " 

"But my dog, Marquis—? " 

"Well, there's something for him to eat; he can wait, we'll see later 
on." 

Madame Honor6 Broussel did not dare reply, but she was very sad. This 
woman who had just borne a hand in the odious comedy by which a girl 
was torn from her friends, who did not trouble herself about the danger 
which this girl who was hardly convalescent might run in this dark, dirty, 
and close waggon, this woman had tears in her eyes at the idea that her 
dog would be unhappy ! 

' ' Now, let's have some rest, " said Loyal-Francoeur. ' ' We've got a tough 
job before us to-morrow." 



XLVI. 

ON THE SCENT. 

At the exact hour that M. Loyal-Francceur left Jeanne in Alcindor 
Boudillon's "in-and-out," Victor and Isidore were leaving Colonel de 
Rieumes' house. The former had had a great weight taken off his mind, 
the latter was gayer than ever. 

" Now we've started," said he to his companion, " things will go ahead, 
and I hope we sha'n't be long before we nab our late master ; we're going 
to the Prefecture, I suppose ? " 

Victor was full of care. Colonel de Rieumes' grief had deeply affected 
him. He was tortured by remorse, and this idea tormented his brain more 
and more : that, until he had restored Jeanne to her father, misfortune 
would prey upon his mother and sister. Silently he followed the hump-back, 
who continued his chatter. 

" I've never been to the Prefecture ; have you ? I suppose not. It must 
be very curious." 

" Very curious," said Victor, like an echo. 

" Mustn't it ? I should like to be a detective. When I've told my stovy 
to the chief of police I shall propose to help the detective in his search ; 
I'll bet I find the guv'nor before he does." 

"It's possible," said Victor abstractedly. 

They arrived at the Prefecture, and found that they must ask their way 
to the police office. A detective took them there. The chief of police had 



DISPATCH AND SBCBECT. 159 

just come in worn with fatigue ; he had been on his legs all day, looking 
into a case of robbery at the Bank. Nevertheless he had the two visitors 
in and listened attentively to them. 

" Then you believe," he said, when Isidore had concluded, " you believe 
that Loyal-Francoeur is still in Paris ? " 

"I saw him the day before yesterday." 

" Are you certain that you were not mistaken ? " 

" Quite certain." 

" Then he must have pretended to go to Belguim in order to throw us on 
a false scent. That explains why letters addressed to Brussels have not 
been called for ; clever, very clever. And what did he look like ? " 

" He was very dark and had black, curly hair ; but what he couldn't 
alter was his eyes ; I should know those eyes anywhere." 

" You are right. That's his vulnerable point. You would have made a 
good detective," said the magistrate, smiling. 

Isidore gave Victor a triumphant glance. 

"But, now," resumed the chief of police. "What do you expect? 
Chance caused you to meet him. Who knows whether that chance will 
ever be renewed ? Paris is a big place." 

"In any opinion, sir, the old woman ought to.be watched, his mistress, 
the Rue Taille-Pain midwife ; she must know where he's hiding." 

" Ah ! the midwife is his mistress ! " cried the chief of police. " That's 
a thing that should have been known before and which explains much. She 
can't screen herself behind professional etiquette now, so far as concerns 
the suppostitious birth. I have a hold on her, since, according to your 
statements, I can proceed against her as an accomplice of abduction. " 

" Not to mention that in all probability the young lady is concealed at 
her house." 

"As to that, no ; I'm certain of that. We searched her house the first 
day, and I've had her watched for a week. Nothing suspicious occurred." 

" It's a funny thing, I can't get it out of my head that we should learn 
something through her. " 

"It's a happy inspiration, perhaps. I'll have her watched again from 
to-morrow. " 

"And I shall begin to-night," said the hump-back. " The old witch was 
down on to me enough, when she knew that I couldn't answer her, for me to 
want my revenge ; I'm off there now. Are you coming, M. Victor ? " 

" Excuse me," said the latter, " I must first ask the chief of police what 
steps he intends to take with regard to me. Am I not compromised in 
the matter ? " he added. 

"Yes," replied the chief of police, "and in spite of my appreciation of 
the spontaneous action that you have taken, in spite of my wish to give you 
the full benefit of it, my duty forces me to detain you here until I have 
consulted the magistrate, who alone can decide what shall be done." 

" Then I remain here at your disposal, sir," said Victor, hanging his head. 
" Oh, I don't want to send you to the Depot. You will remain here, in 
the detectives' quarters. To-morrow morning, early, I'll take you to the 
magistrate. You, sir," he added, turning to Isidore, "you can go." 

The hump-back shook his friend's hand sadly and left the room, rather 
vexed at having, after a manner, enticed him into a trap, but hoping that 
the next day would see things put right. As for Victor, he was placed, as 
the chief of police had ordered, in the detectives' room, where a mattress 
was placed on the floor for him. He threw himself on it fully dressed 



160 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

and — unlooked-for phenomenon — fell sound asleep. A light tap on the 
shoulder woke him. It was broad daylight. The chief of police was stand- 
ing by him. He got up at once. 

"I have had the magistrate informed," said the chief of police, "but he 
can't see you until twelve o'clock. In the meanwhile, if you want anything, 
if you wish your friends to know — " 

"Thanks, sir, but I should prefer them not to know anything at 
present. When my fate has been decided I shall beg you to have my 
poor old mother informed, with the necessary precautions. " 

" I hope there will be no need for that, and that, in accordance with my 
advice, the magistrate will be satisfied with your promise to reappear when 
called on. For the present you must wait." 

The chief of police was about to retire, when a great noise was heard in 
the entrance corridor. It was the hump-back, who had returned all agog. 

" Whatever is the matter ? " asked the. chief. " Have you found Loyal- 
Francceur ? " 

" No ; but there's something in the wind. The midwife was out all clay 
yesterday ; at seven o'clock last night she went off in a cab with a man who 
seemed anxious to conceal himself, and she stopped out all night." 

"Ah!" exclaimed the chief of police, "then we've been outdone 
again, unless, indeed, it's quite a natural thing— a man coming to fetch 
a midwife to a woman. No matter, the point is worth clearing up, and 
we'll do it. Come along, gentlemen ; let us go to the Rue Taille- 
Pain." 

" I as well ? " asked Victor. 

" You as well. I sha'n't take any detectives with me. I'm going to try 
an experiment which must remain a secret, if it comes to nothing. You will 
accompany me and give me your assistance if necessary." 

" Certainly," said the hump-back, with a confident air. 

" But — my peculiar position — " said Victor. 

" Oh, you can come back here with me, and the magistrate shall give his 
decision. You don't intend to escape, do you ? Let us suppose you have 
made no confession. But, by all means, do not let us lose any time before 
acting." 

They arrived at the Rue Taille-Pain and approached the midwife's 
house. Her door, as well as that on the floor above, where was the 
somnambulist's room, was locked. They knocked. At the noise which 
they made, the dog, who was doubtless asleep, began to bark and to scratch 
at the door angrily. 

"There's no one there," said the chief of police. 

They went and questioned the doorkeeper. Madame Honors Broussel 
had, in fact, gone away in a cab the night before, with a man who had 
arrived during the morning, and who had passed the day shut up in the 
house, whilst she was scouring Paris. 

' ' Ah, you can't tell us where she went, I suppose ? " said the chief of 
police. 

" What right have you to ask me, sir ? " 

The chief of police drew the end of his sash from his pocket. 

" Oh, I beg your pardon, sir, but I didn't know you. Alas, no, 
I can't tell you where she went. But she can't have gone far, for 
she has left her dog here, and he's been howling all night." 

"Suppose we waited for her?" said the hump-back. "They'll be 
coming back, perhaps," 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



161 



"Impossible," replied the chief of police, "I have other important 
business. Remain here. I'll send one of my men to you." 

" Don't you think," hazarded the hump-back, " that it would be a good 
thing to have a look what they've been doing in here ? " 

"Yes, of course. Only we must send for a locksmith to open the doors." 

The hump-back began to laugh. 

'' If you would allow me — ? " he began 

"Well?" 

" One acquires certain talents in M. Loyal-Francceur's school." 

"Well, what talents ? " 

" This, for instance : to open a lock with a hook. Although I was only 
a little clerk, knowing nothing of his affairs, he showed me one day how it 
was clone, in case that, having no one else near, he might want help — " 

" I see," said the chief of police, with perfect coolness. "Then you have 
had lessons in burglary, a theoretical and practical course ? 

"Pretty nearly." 

' ' Splendid. But, what is not quite so splendid is, that the science, once 
acquired, is liable to be employed against the teacher. Well, my dear sir, 
go ahead." 

" You'll allow me ? " 

" More than that, I order you. Have you your instrument with you ? " 

" I brought one on the chance." 

" Then get to work quickly. I shall be pleased to see how it's done." 

The hump-back produced from his pocket, not the enormous bunch of 
huge hooks which locksmiths generally carry, but a neat black morocco 
case. In this case, fitting into one another, so as to occupy as little space 
as possible, were five little bars of steel, bent at one end and square at the 
other. Below was a single handle provided with a hole of the same dimen- 
sions as the bars, and, consequently,' fitting any of them. Lastly, a steel 
crow-bar, divided into three pieces which screwed one into another. 

" A very pretty little apparatus," said the chief of police, examining it, 
like a connoisseur. "English, eh ? " 

"No, sir, American. Loyal-Francceur had three of them. This is the 
least complete of them." 

" Let's see how it works." 

Isidore examined the lock, selected one of the hooks which seemed to 
him the right size, fitted it on the handle and introduced it into the lock. 
The hook was too small. He took the next one ; two turns, and the door 
opened. 

" There you are," said he, turning round with a satisfied smile. 

"You're wonderfully clever," said the chief of police, who during the 
operation had lit a cigarette. " Let's look at the inside now.'' 

There was nothing striking to be seen inside, unless it was the table, laid 
for, and bearing unmistakable signs of, a plentiful dinner for two : two 
piles of plates, two glasses, two coffee-cups. As the three men examined 
this, the dog, Marquis, prowled round them, growling and rubbing himself 
against the furniture. Suddenly the chief of police struck his forehead. 

"What a splendid idea!" he said, — "this dog; lie's old, he must 
be attached to his mistress ? " 

"I should just think so," said Isidore; "she loves him more than a 
child." 

" If he could put us on her track ? ' 

" Do you think it's possible ? " said Victor. 



162 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" At any rate, we might see. Try it, you who know him." 

The hump-back bent down, patted the dog, who began to wag his tail, 
and led him to the door. . 

"Seek her, Marquis," he said in a coaxing voice, " seek your mistress. 

The dog snuffed at the ground, sneezed two or three times with satisfac- 
tion, andToegan to go down the steps, still holding his nose to the ground. 

" Follow, follow," said the chief of police. 

After having shut the broken door again as well as they could, the three 
men ran down the steps. Once on the street, Marquis looked about him and 
be wan to run. It was not a scent that he was following ; it was a road 
familiar to him which he followed as fast as his short legs and fat stomach 
would allow him. Isidore, Victor, and the chief of police followed close 
on him. He followed the Rue Saint-Martin as far as the boulevard, then 
plunged into the faubourg, went up the Boulevard Magenta, followed the 
outer boulevard and quickly entered the Rue Lepic. He was going to the 
Cit6 Maupy, whither he had accompanied his mistress so many times. The 
three men followed him, more and more interested in this novel chase. 
Arrived at the Rue Mercadet, he entered the Cit6 Maupy and went 
straight to Prosper Martin's house, where he began to cry and scratch at 
the door. 

XLVII. 

QUID PRO QUO. 

At the dog's cries the door opened and " Mother Comfort " appeared. At 
the sight of Marquis, accompanied by three well-dressed gentlemen, she 
was a little surprised. 

" What can I do for you, gentlemen ? " she asked. 

"Oh," said the chief of police carelessly, "we only wanted to knew 
whether you know this dog that we found straying and who brought us 
here ? " 

" Yes, sir ; he belongs to a relation of mine. But how good of you ! " 

" We are anxious to find as soon as possible the dog's mistress, your 
relation — " 

" Madame Brou^-el," continued Victor. 

" Who was to come here this evening, I believe," added the hump-back. 

The rag-picker looked at them mistrustfully. What could these three 
individuals want with Madame Broussel? Were their intentions good 
or bad ? 

"Tell us quickly, I entreat you," said Victor ; "it is, perhaps, a matter 

},, ? and death f°r a young girl. " 

"Ihe young lady who was here?" cried the ex-vivandifre, suddenly 
™"; b ? th . ls remark which had been made at a venture. 
;„ a „ ' % ™ as ^ ere ? " be 8 an the hump-back, but his voice died away 

« lv°^ Pa '^ ! * he ch, ', ef ° f P° lice had damped on his toes. 
poor Mdt/e f^fM* 7 ^ *"" her6 '" he ™ d ' -mposedly, &** 

qn^^ssa^sgsr^ SiV ne - sentlemen ' tel1 me 



DISPATCH AND SBORBCT. 163 

" Not a bit of it ; it was only by chance she came here. But," objected 
"Mother Comfort," mistrustfully, "what do you come asking all these 
questions for ? You appear to me to be telling lies in order to get at the 
truth, as the adjudant used to say. Come, play fair, and tell us your 
names, rank, and numbers." 

"Very well. You look like an honest woman, so I'll be frank with you. 
I am a police commissary, and I am engaged, with these two gentlemen, 
in searching for — in her own interest, and solely to restore her to her 
father who is bemourning her — a young girl, the same one, if I am not mis- 
taken, who was concealed here. " 

"Then, monsieur le commissaire, in my turn, I have the satisfaction of 
informing you that your mission is at an end ; for the father himself came 
here to fetch his daughter away yesterday evening. " 

' ' Yesterday evening ! Why, it's impossible. At what time ? " 

"About half-past seven — eight o'clock, perhaps." 

" Why, at that time we were with Colonel de Rieumes at his own house," 
cried Victor. 

" The colonel ! Why, my lad, it was a colonel, and a fine old fellow 
too, who came to fetch the young lady, and the poor old man was so upset 
that he couldn't get out of the cab. " 

" What was he like ? Describe him," said the chief of police. 

"Strongly built, white, almost grey, moustache; an officer's rosette in 
his buttonhole." 

" It's incredible. He didn't tell you his name ? " 

"No, but he promised to come again. And — wait a minute — I believe, 
yes, that was it ; when they went away he told his man to drive to the 
Rue de Bellechasse. " 

"Rue de Bellechasse ! Why, Colonel de Rieumes' house is there. It's 
like a dream." 

" Wait a moment. One more question. Did the young lady, when she 
saw her father, or the man who professed to be her father, did she recog- 
nise him ? " asked the chief of police. 

" Certainly she did. She sat up to look at him." 

"And then?" 

" Then, she was so weak, the darling, that she fell back on her bed." 

"And she followed him ? " 

" Without any bother." 

"It's incredible." 

" Has Colonel de Rieumes, with his long face, been trifling with us?" 
hazarded the hump-back. 

"I might say to you, gentlemen, have you been trifling with me? But, 
no, there's some fresh machination in it that we must get to the bottom of." 

"Hold," said Victor; "the midwife is supposed to have brought 
Colonel de Rieumes. Was not this woman playing a double game, or 
rather, despairing of finding her accomplice again, and urged on by greed 
for gain, did she not determine to restore Mademoiselle de Rieumes to her 
father, knowing that he would reward her liberally ? " 

" It's just possible, although it's not my opinion," said the chief of police 
thoughtfully. " At any rate, there is a simple way of clearing it up ; to 
take this woman to the Rue Bellechasse and confront her with the colonel." 

" But would she go ? " 

"She could not refuse. However, it is easy enough to ask her. My 
good woman," said the chief of police, addressing the rag-picker, who, 



164 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

although very much puzzled, had withdrawn a little during the conversa- 
tion between the three men, " my good woman you would not refuse to go 
with us to the young lady's father's house ? " 

" Refuse ! certainly not," said the honest woman. " I should be glad to 
see the good colonel again. But what do you want me to go there for ? " 

" To prove to us that you are not mistaken and that it was really the 
colonel whom you saw last night. " 

" What an idea ! of course it was him. I don't suppose he'll deny it." 

" Well, one of you go and fetch a cab. We will start." 

"All right, and I'll just make myself look a bit decent while you're 
gone." 

The hump-back set off as fast as his ricketty legs would carry him. The 
chief of police sat down thoughtfully on a heap of stones. He was trying 
to find some solution to this fresh puzzle. There was no doubt in his mind 
about one thing — Colonel de Rieumes had not been to the Cite' Maupy. 
They had to deal with some fresh plot on the part of this infernal creature 
who defied all pursuit and from whom the police, up to that time, had ex- 
perienced nothing but defeat. Nevertheless he was anxious to sift the 
whole thing thoroughly in his mind. 

" Loyal -Francceur has recaptured his prey," he thought. " And he has 
worked it in such a way that all that we, who have been especially 
favoured by chance, have been able to do, is to arrive twelve hours too late. 
There's no doubt he's no mean foe." 

Isidore returned with a four-wheeler. 

" Will you get in, madame ? " said the chief of police. 

"Certainly. But — hullo ! there's someone better than me. It's Prosper 
Martin, 'the Bear, ' himself ; the man who picked the young lady up on 
the boulevard, and who nursed her with me, and devotedly too, I can 
assure you ; just ask him about it. Hey ! Martin ! advance ! these gentle- 
men have got something to say to you." 

Prosper Martin was just returning from selling to his wholesale dealer, 
the " ogre," as he is called, the produce of the last night's collecting. He 
came up and asked what was to do. He gave the same answers to the 
chief of police's questions as the woman had done. 

" It's too much, really," said the officer. " Well, let us go, we shall see." 

" Shall I go with you ? " asked Prosper. 

" Certainly, my man ; two witnesses are better than one. And, besides, 
you can be giving us some more information on the way." 

They got into the cab. The chief of police, Victor, Mother Comfort, and 
Prosper Martin sat inside. The hump-back got up on the box. The dog, 
who since his arrival had been lying in a corner of the room, got up and 
gave vent to some piteous howls. 

"Ah, one moment," said the chief of police. " We mustn't forget the 
dog. He has done us a good service already ; he may do us more. We 
must not neglect anything. " 

The cab started. During the journey the chief of police questioned 
Martin. The rag-picker related to him all possible details, how he had 
found Jeanne, how he had taken her to his house, how it had been deter- 
mined to keep her at the Cite Maupy, nursed at the expense of the whole 
community. 

" Aud you did not think of informing the police ? " asked the magistrate. 
"It did not strike you that this young lady must have friends, parents, 
who were searching for her and worrying themselves about her absence ? " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 165 

"Yes, for Mother Comfort had told her cousin, Madame Broussel, who's 
in that line, to look after that, and Madame Broussel told us she'd discov- 
ered the father. " 

"And this father never came to visit his daughter? " 

" We saw him yesterday for the first time." 

" It's incredible. One might almost think that you were right," said the 
chief of police to Victor, ' ' and that yesterday evening, after you had left 
Colonel de Rieumes' house, the midwife went and informed him. Well, 
we shall soon know. Here we are in the Rue de Bellechasse. " 

The cab stopped. The hump-back tumbled down from his seat and ran 
and rung for admittance. On seeing all this caravan enter the court-yard 
the porter thought he was dreaming. The rag-picker's working-clothes and 
the ex-vivandier&s fanciful get up especially struck him with amazement. 
However, owing to the presence of the chief of police, he dared not make 
any remark. On being informed, Colonel de Rieumes came running out in 
a state of great excitement, thinking to have news of his daughter. As 
soon as she saw him Mother Comfort cried : 

" Ah, that's him right enough ! " 

The chief of police and Victor exchanged glances. 

"This good woman," said the former, "tells us, colonel, that you went 
yesterday evening, with one of her relations, a friend of Loyal-Francoeur's, 
to fetch your daughter, who was beiog nursed at her house." 

"I ! " cried the colonel, amazed. 

"Yes, you, colonel; didn't we have a talk together? It was you in 
person, as the lieutenant of the Third, who had been a lawyer's clerk, 
used to say," 

" And I recognise this gentleman as the person who came in a cab yester- 
day," said Prosper Martin in his turn. 

"But my daughter ! What did you say about my daughter ? " 

" Why, we gave her to you last night, mille bombes!" replied the ex- 
vivanditre, "I gave her you with my own hands, because, on account of 
your gout, you couldn't take her yourself, and stopped in the cab." 

The plot thickened. A prey to a thousand different feelings, the poor 
colonel thought he was going mad. Suddenly Prosper Martin struck his 
forehead. 

"Ah!" he exclaimed. "Wait; this isn't the gentleman who came to 
fetch the young lady last night. He's got the same hair, the same 
moustache, and the same clothes ; but his eyes aren't the same ; the other 
man had green eyes which shone in the dark ; I noticed them in spite of 
myself." 

" Loyal-Francceur ! " muttered the chief of police. "I thought as much. " 

" And it is to that man that my daughter has been delivered again ! " 
cried M. de Rieumes, with a groan. " What have I done, my God ! to 
deserve so much trouble ? " 

All the spectators were deeply affected at the old man's agonised grief. 
In order to try and collect herself, the ex-vivandiere exclaimed, as she passed 
a rough hand over her wet eyes : 

" Ordbleu de sacrdbleu ! How could we tell that that old sham soldier, 
with his dandified airs, was only a common civilian and a low hound ? I 
should know him, too, by those green eyes, and if ever the scoundrel falls 
into my clutches, he'll have a bad time of it, trust me ! " 

" Well," said the chief of police, wishing to put an end to this painful 
scene, " unfortunately, we know the truth now. It's a new plot of this 



166 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

wretch, that's all ; a new reckoning to add to his account. But we shall 
have a settlement together, and soon, it is to be hoped. As for you, 
colonel, make your mind easy ; if he has carried your daughter off, it is 
only with the object of extorting money. You will hear from him." 
" May God grant it ! " said the colonel, falling senseless on a chair. 

XLVIII. 

A COMFORTER, 

Not wishing to arouse M. de Rieumes' grief again, the chief of police 
walked silently towards the door, making a sign to his companions to 
follow him. They obeyed. Prosper Martin and " Mother Comfort " were 
very crestfallen. Although they had nothing to reproach themselves with, 
for they had thought to act for the best, they were conscious within them- 
selves of an indefinable feeling. It seemed to them that they were guilty 
of a grave fault, that they had assisted in the committal of a crime. 
Victor, for his part, was more seriously affected, for it was not in good faith 
and ignorance that he had made himself an accomplice in his former 
master's infamous proceedings. He had really his share of responsibility 
in the whole affair, and he was tortured by genuine remorse. As for the 
hump-back, he was dreaming of meeting Loyal-Francceur in the street, of 
flying at his throat, of having him arrested, of forcing him to restore 
Mademoiselle de Rieumes to her father and of winning thereby no end of 
honour and glory, denoted by innumerable ten-franc pieces representing 
myriads of drinks. 

"As you are here," said the chief of police to the two rag-pickers, 
" will you come as far as the Prefecture of Police? I must take down your 
statements. " 

' ' Certainly, sir, " replied Martin. 

"At your orders," said the former vivandiire. 

" As for you, M. Victor, the magistrate is waiting for us." 

"Yes, sir." 

" And I," said the hump-back, " what am I to do ? " 

" You are at liberty. Come with me if you like, or go to your work. 
Only I must ask you to come to my office before six o'clock, to sign the 
depositions." 

" Six o'clock. Right. I'm going to have some breakfast now ; the walk 
lias given me an appetite. But may I take the dog, sir ? " 

"Yes, take him. In fact, you are the only one that he knows. But 
don't lose him." 

"No fear." 

And the hump-back strutted off majestically, followed by the dog, who 
trotted at his heels. 



At this moment, a man dressed as a mason, with his dusty cap crushed 
down over his eyes, and who for more than half an hour past had been 
busy reading the placards at the corner of the Rue Grenelle, approached 
the group, which he examined without appearing to be looking at any thin o-. 

" Ha, ha !" muttered, "M. Isidore, my late clerk, with the chief of 
police. I wasn't mistaken. And Victor as well. Well, well, I was right 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 167 

when I said that the fellow would go wrong ; I shall have to get rid of him. 
Who are the others ? The rag-pickers from the Cite Maupy ! How did 
they discover them? How lucky they arrived after the bird had flown. 
Ah ! of course, the dog. Cursed beast ! Well, I'm here luckily, and I'll 
provide for all." 

• • • • • • 

Colonel de Rieumes had remained seated in his chair, groaning, sobbing, 
and in a state of complete prostration. The door of the room opened noise- 
lessly. A woman entered with a light step, he felt a soft and velvety 
hand clasp his own, whilst a silvery voice whispered in his ear : 

" Why should you despair ? God is great and merciful. I have prayed 
for you and for her." 

He raised his head by an effort and recognised Louise. Behind her the 
Comte de Pringy, his arms folded, was silently standing. 

" You told me that I was like your daughter," continued Louise, in her 
soft voice, " or, at least, that I reminded you of her. Let me remain with 
you until she comes back ; she, for she will come back, I am certain of it, 
I have prayed to God for you, God will hear my prayer, and then there 
will be two of us to love you. " 

" Dear child," murmured the colonel, taking the young girl's hand and 
drawing it towarrls him. 

" I never knew my father," continued Louise, " but when you placed a 
kiss on my forehead yesterday, it seemed as if my father was clasping me 
in his arms. Kiss me again, father, and think of your daughter." 

"Dear little girl," repeated the old man; "I do not know how it is 
that your presence comforts me, your words soothe my grief, your pro- 
mises, in which I dare not believe, give me, nevertheless, a peaceful mind. 
Ah ! thanks for having come." 

" Listen, I must not tell a lie," said Louise, blushing. "It was not for 
that reason that I came. Let me tell you all." 

"Speak." 

" When you left our house yesterday, my mother and I were very happy, 
but a strange surprise was in store for us. My brother, my poor brother, 
when he read your name, uttered a cry, and then ran away like a madman, 
taking .your card with him. Where was he going? We knew not. But 
we were frightened, and the evening, the night, passed without our hear- 
ing of him. We spent a terrible night, weeping and praying, for him and 
for you. At last, this morning, seeing my poor mother in despair, I came 
to see you and to ask you, you who have been so kind and generous, to 
come to our help once more, to tell us why your name upset our brother so 
much, and to give us your aid in finding and. saving him." 

" Your brother ! Then you did not know ? " 

" I know, I see all now. But at the time we did not understand, we 
could not imagine what he meant by the cry that ho uttered : ' He saves 
my sister ; the man whose daughter I stole ! ' We were frightened, sir, 
and my poor mother is very old to bear the grief which the loss of her son 
would cause her." 

" Yes, I see, poor child ; I understand better than anyone, alas ! " said 
the colonel, wiping away a tear. 

" Oh, forgive me. I have aroused your grief again, without knowing it. 
What was I saying ? I came to see you, to ask you whether you had seen 
Victor, what passed, what we have to hope and what to fear ? " 



168 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" Well ? " 

" Then, as I came to your house, not knowing how to ask nor to whom 
to speak, I met this gentleman, who interested himself in me and brought 
me here, at the same time consoling me and telling me what had passed, 
that you had forgiven my brother. And you did well, sir, to forgive him ; 
he is so good ; if he sinned, it was from weakness, for our sakes, to give us 
our daily bread." 

" I know it," said the colonel, " and I forgive him. He has promised me, 
moreover to atone for his sin, if he can. He has been spending the night 
in doing it, he is engaged on it now. He has^ust been here." 

"Yes, they told me so, and I am happy. I must go, too, and set my 
poor mother's mind at rest. I must go, but you will let me come again, 
will you not ? " 

" Let you, my dear child ; I beg, I entreat you to do so. No, better 
than that. Go and fetch your mother, and you can both live here, happy 
and peaceful. When I see you I shall seem to suffer less." 

Louise got up and held her face to the old man, who kissed it again. 
Then she fled, hurrying to take the good news to her mother. 

" Poor little thing ! what a heart she has ! " said the colonel to Pringy, 
after watching her go. 

' ' She's an angel, a sweet angel ! " cried the count impetuously. 



XLIX. 

IN WHICH THE HUMP-BACK HAS A BAD TIME OF IT. 

Still ruminating over his projects, Isidore, who already saw fortune smil- 
ing on him in the future, had left the chief of police and had gone and had 
a plentiful breakfast at a public-house in the Rue du Bac. After a cup 
of coffee, liberally diluted with cognac, an extra drain, and then another 
extra drain, the hump-back was in a state of complete beatitude, to which 
two glasses of dry champagne — or reputed as such — specially recommended 
by the proprietor, only served to add. As he was finishing his meal a 
gentleman, a very handsome man, who had been watching him for some 
little time, came up to him, patted the dog, and finally proposed a game of 
piquet. The hump-back, flattered at this attention, did not dare refuse. 
The handsome man called for cards and fresh drinks. Isidore, who never- 
theless was not much of a player, won the first game. His partner asked 
for his revenge and lost again. More drinks were ordered. They began a 
third game. In short, the hump-back concluded by altogether forgetting 
the promise that he had made to go to the Prefecture. At six o'clock he 
was still playing and drinking. At seven he was no longer playing but 
was still drinking. At ten o'clock, perfectly drunk, he remembered that 
he had a task to perform in order to make his fortune. He rose by an 
effort, took leave of his new friend and went out to fulfil his mission, that 
is to say, to look for Loyal-Prancoeur. In his mind, muddled by the fumes 
of alcohol, he came to the conclusion that the late inquiry-agent would be 
prowling about the Cite 1 Maupy. It was thither, then, that he must make 
his way. However, this was a difficult matter, for the hump-back saw 
everything going round and round and his legs seemed to him to be made 
of cotton wool. 
Notwithstanding this he set out courageously, reeling, running up against 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 169 

the foot-passengers and shops and with great difficulty keeping out of the 
way of the traffic. Marquis, the pug, followed him, with his tail between 
his legs. He advanced painfully, but he advanced ; he succeeded in crossing 
the Pont-Royal : he traversed the Avenue de l'Opera without accident ; he 
ascended the Rue Blanche as far as the outer boulevard and climbed the Rue 
Lepic. But as he was rounding the corner of the street close to the 
Montmartre Cemetery, in a very lonely plaee, a heavy hand was laid on his 
neck. He tried to cry out. Everything became suddenly dark, and at the 
same time his voice died away in his throat : his head had been muffled in 
a woollen blanket, the ends of which fluttered about his lean body. In the 
twinkling of an eye he was enveloped entirely in it. Then he felt himself 
lifted up and hoisted on the shoulders of a man who began to walk rapidly 
away, and, in spite of the blanket which covered him, he heard a sardonic 
voice say with a chuckle which was well known to him, 

"That's one of them. The others' turn will soon come." 

The dog barked joyfully. 

• •••»• 

If he could hear another's voice through the blanket, it followed that his 
own could be heard ; now it was only eleven o'clock, there must still be 
people about in the streets. By calling for help he ran a chance either of 
being liberated or at least of frightening his ravishers and forcing them to 
fly and abandon him. But, as if his intention had been foreseen, he felt 
the point of a dagger held to his breast and the same voice said to him : 

"If you struggle or call out, you're a dead man." 

The hump-back took the hint and did not move again. The man who 
was carrying him, and who must have been very strong, for he did not 
seem to notice his burden, hurried along with hasty strides. Ah ! how 
poor Isidore regretted not having kept the promise he had made to go and 
take his orders at the Prefecture of police that evening. However the man 
who was carrying him stopped all at once, and without respect for the 
known delicateness of the poor fellow's frail limbs, let him fall on the 
ground. Isidore restrained a cry of pain ; he was thinking of the threatened 
dagger. 

" Undo him a bit, he must be near choking," said Loyal -Francoeur's voice. 

The piece of stuff which covered the hump-back's head was removed ; he 
opened his eyes timidly. He was in a small room, with no window — none, 
at least, that could be seen, and lighted by one candle. Standing by him 
were Loyal-Francceur, revolver in hand, and another man, a giant, the one 
who had so gracefully lost so many games of piquet to him at the public- 
house in the Rue du Bac. 

" Well Isidore," said the inquiry-agent, in a bantering voice, " then you're 
amongst us again ? Good friends always meet again, you see. It's true you 
didn't come here of your own accord. But what does that matter ? you're 
here ; that's the principal thing." 

" What do you want with me ? " cried the unfortunate wretch, trembling 
in every limb. 

" In the first place, to lecture you. What, ungrateful fellow, you whom I 
had heaped with kindness and good advice, you have made use of the ex- 
perience I gave you to play the spy on me ? For it was you I met the other 
day in the Rue Vivienne ? No lies ! " 

"It's true, master," replied the hump-back, who had regained a little con- 
fidence ; " I recognised you and I wanted to speak to you ; but in your own 



170 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

interests, to tell you what was going on, the clangers you were in, and to 
offer you my services. " 

" Fancy that ! poor fellow ! How easy it is to mistake peoples' inten- 
tions. And I had the idea that you wanted to inform against me." 

" Oh, master, how could you think it ? " 

" No, no, my lad, I acknowledge the mistake and am sorry. Yes, you 
were following me for my own good. So I hope you told no one you 
had seen me, eh, Isidore ? *' 

The ironical tone of this question clearly showed the hump-back that 
Loyal-Francceur was far from believing his explanation. However, he re- 
plied, though with a little hesitation : 

"No, master, no one." 

"Not even your old companion, Victor Borin?" 

" Oh, him — well, I happened to meet him — by chance — " 

" Yes, my friend. And it was also by chance that, having met the chief of 
police, you proposed to him to track me out. It was by chance, too, that 
you went to the Cit6 Maupy, where, happily, I had been too quick for you. 
Lastly, it was by chance that you went to Colonel de Rieumes' house, where 
you were able to satisfy yourself that Loyal-Francceur is stronger than you 
all and will crush you one after the other ! " 

The rascal's voice had become loud aud harsh, his face wore a ferocious 
expression, his green eyes shot fire. The hump-back shuddered to the 
marrow of his bones. 

" Yes, all!" resumed Loyal-Francceur, "beginning with you, who are in my 
hands now. And here, look you, my little fellow, I can, if I like, kill you 
torture you, let you die of hunger and thirst, at my fancy. These walls ara 
deaf and dumb. And if your friends the police ever come to look for you, 
they would find nothing but a corpse." 

"Mercy, mercy ! " groaned the poorwretch, throwing himself with his face 
on the ground. 

" Get up, fool. I don't want to kill 'you now. What good would it do 
me ! You know well that I never do anything without a motive." 

" Then what do you intend doing with me," asked the hump-back, fear- 
fully. 

" First of all, get rid of a nusiance ; we shall see afterwards." 

" Oh, master, on my eternal salvation I swear to you." 

"All right, oaths are needless. I don't believe in them. I want 
deeds." 

" Speak ; what do you demand ? " 

" You shall know later ; what is necessary for the present, is to remain 
quiet and keep your mouth shut. You will be locked in here. You 
needn't shout or call, it would be useless, no one would hear you, and be- 
sides, before going, we shall take our precautions." 

He made a sign to the man who was there, and who had not said a word. 
Isidore shuddered on seeing this man, whose strength he knew, walk to- 
wards him. 

" Do what I told you," said Loyal-Francceur. 

The man, who was none other than Alcindor, took hold of the hump- 
back, whom he lifted like a child, and placed him on a chair. Then lie 
bound him, fastened his arms to the arms, and his legs to the legs of the 
chair, so as to make it an impossibility for him to move. 

"Now, let's leave him," said Loyal-Francceur. " My little Isidore you 
can cry out if you think proper, but there's no one to hear you. But I 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



171 



should not advise you to do so ; it might annoy me, do you hear ? I shall 
leave you for an hour or two. I'll let you know any orders when I return." 

"I entreat you, master," began the hump-back. 

" Enough ; rest your legs, you'll want them later on, and meditate in 
silence on this axiom, that it is better to have Loyal-Francceur for a friend 
than an enemy. I'll see you again presently. When I come back, I shall 
hope to find you compliant to my wishes." 

" Oh, master, tell me what you want ; I'll obey you like a slave," cried 
Isidore. 

"That's enough of it. You will know what I want, I tell you, 
when the time comes, and I hope that won't be long. Keep quiet now and 
reHect." 

He put out the candle, called the dog, who came to him joyfully, and 
went out, followed by Alcindor, still silent. The hump-back heard two 
keys turned. He remained there alone, bound, in profound darkness, and 
ignorant of what was to be his fate. 



THE EANSOM. 

The place to which Monsieur Loyal-Francceur had taken Isidore was none 
other than the back-room of his office in the Avenue de Clichy. This 
back-room he had at first intended for the reception of Jeanne de Rieumes. 
But his meeting with the hump-back in the Rue Vivienne had, it may be 
remembered, caused him to alter his plans. Accordingly he had had the 
young girl taken to his friend Boudillon's " in-and-out." But in addition 
to the fact that she was very uncomfortable in the waggon, and liable to 
fall ill again, it would have been difficult to keep her there long without 
being seen by one of the neighbouring mountebanks. It was therefore 
necessary to devise some other plan quickly . Leaving his precious bag in 
Madame Honored Broussel's care, he had dressed himself up as a workman 
and had gone to make a tour of inspection round Colonel de Rieumes' house, 
in order to arrange a plan for treating with him. about Jeanne's recovery. 
Great was his surprise on seeing the chief of police, accompanied by Victor, 
the hump-back, and two rag-pickers from the Cit6 Maupy, get out of a cab 
and go into the house. How had they all met? The hump-back had evi- 
dently been talking. Victor had evidently offered his services to the 
police. But how had they discovered the Cite 1 Maupy so quickly ? The 
sight of Marquis, whom the hump-back took in his arms and carried out of 
the cab, was a ray of light. It was the dog who had guided his enemies ! 

" Saperlotte ! " he said to himself, " and I who left him at home, for 
fear he should betray us ! An excess of prudence which turned out un- 
fortunately. People are quite right when they say you can't think of 
everything." The little group had entered the house. Crushing his hat 
down over his eyes, Loyal-Francceur, pretending to be immersed in the 
placards, watched them come out. He saw the hump-back separate him- 
self from the others, taking the dog with him. 

"Where the devil's he going?" said the inquiry-agent to himself, and 
what fresh trick is he thinking of playing me ? He's the most dangerous 
of the lot, that little scamp. If it had not been for him, I should have 
been as right as ninepence, in Marius Nogale's dark skin, and should have 



172 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

conducted my little business in the Avenue de Clichy in peace. He's the 
one that has upset the whole arrangement." 

The hump-back went his way, still followed by the dog. 

"If I could only get hold of him," said Loyal-Francceur to himself. 
" He recognized me once, it's true. But he knows neither my new name, 
nor my home ; I might make use of that convenient back-room yet. But 
how can I capture him ? Ah, if only it was not daylight ! But, impossible. 
And yet I can't pass the day in following him. " 

A sigh of relief escaped him. The hump-back had entered the public- 
house. He knew his former clerk's habits. When he once had a bottle in 
front of him, the chances were that he would remain there for an indefinite 
period. He looked through the window and saw that Isidore was being 
served with breakfast. He was happy. He hurried to the Tuileries, where 
he had left Alcindor waiting, and gave him his instructions; we know how 
they were fulfilled, and how the hump-back, having arrived at a proper 
pitch of drunkenness had been safely placed under lock and key. Re- 
assured on this point, Loyal-Francceur and the mountebank left the 
Avenue de Clichy and returned to La Villette. Madame Broussel was 
awaiting them there in the waggon, attending to Jeanne, in whom the 
emotions of the day before had provoked a fresh crisis. On seeing 
Marquis, she gave vent to a cry of joy, and the pug leapt yelping into his 
mistress's arms. 

" You've been to fetch my dog," cried the midwife, " how nice of you I" 

"Yes," growled Loyal-Francceur; " he has played us a nice trick. A 
little more, and he'd have had us all ruined." 

"How?" 

" That little scamp of an Isidore." 

" Ah ! I was certain of it." 

" Do let me speak. The little hound took it into his head to go and 
fetch him and to get him out of the house ; how, I don't know. The dog 
took him to the Cite Maupy." 

" Impossible ! He's so intelligent, my Marquis." 

" Yes, Intelligent enough to get our throats cut. Thanks. But it's a 
good job, I've caught him again. And now don't let him out any more, or 
else — " As if he had understood the threat conveyed in his last sentence, 
the dog went and hid himself quietly under a make-shift bed upon which 
Jeanne was lying. 

" Now, go to sleep," said Loyal-Francceur. " I must be off again. I've 
got a good deal to do between this and to-morrow morning." 

Louise had gone to fetch her mother, and had told her of Colonel de 
Rieumes' wish. Re-assured as to her son's fate, and rather confused by 
all these events, among which she was getting quite lost, the good woman 
had followed her daughter. Their arrival at his house had been a relief to 
the colonel. It had seemed to him that he was preparing for his daughter's 
return, and that Louise once installed in the Rue de Bellechasse, Jeanne 
would not fail to return soon. The unhappy indulge in these superstitions. 
Let them do so, they console them. For the first time, perhaps, for six 
weeks, M. de Riemes slept tranquilly. He hoped for, he almost expected, 
good news. At eight o'clock the next morning, a footman came into his 
room. A " very urgent and important letter" had just arrived. M. de 
Rieumes opened it with a trembling hand. It was as follows : 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 173 

" Sir, — When M. de Pringy proposed to you to restore your daughter in 
consideration of a sum of two hundred thousand francs, you thought fit to 
lay the letter before the police. That was very wrong of you. Your 
daughter was not restored to you, and I was put to considerable inconveni- 
ence. On this occasion, hunted down, persecuted for crimes that I was 
forced to commit, I write to you directly. Your daughter is still in my 
power, and I am still willing to restore her to you. Only, I have raised 
my terms. I must have three hundred thousand francs now. I have 
confidence in your straightforwardness. Write to me, poste-restante, at the 
La Villette office, initials L. F., No. 13, and say whether you consent to 
my proposal. I will inform you afterwards of the mode of interview which 
we can employ. Do not, as on the first occasion, be guilty of the folly of 
calling in the police. You would run the risk of losing your daughter 
altogether, and you would not capture me. I beg you to believe with what 
regret I am obliged to open up, in such a strange way, negotiations which I 
could have wished could have been more friendly. Loyal-Fkamcceuk, and 
Co. , Formerly of the Rue des Chantres. 

" P.S. — This letter should reach you by the first post. You will therefore 
have time for reflection. Be good enough to arrange that I shall have an 
answer by five o'clock. I must leave France at once. " 

On reading this letter, at once threatening and ironical, the colonel was 
seized with a fit of terrible rage. Then he reflected and thought to himself 
that if, in fact, on the first occasion he had consented to the condition 
which the count proposed to him, he would have spared himself much grief, 
and would have obviated the sufferings which his daughter had endured. 
Yet, on the other hand, it was hard for an honourable man to connive at 
the escape of a wretch like Loyal-Francceur, and to deliver a murderer 
from the hands of the law by giving him a considerable sum, almost a 
fortune, which would allow him, with his Protean talents especially, to go 
and live peacefully and happily abroad, in scandalous impunity. The 
colonel awaited the arrival of Clairac and the count, in order to confer 
with them. A lengthy discussion ensued. Pringy, who bore a justifiable 
spite against the inquiry-agent, was for attacking him with his own weapons, 
that is to say, by cunning and treachery, and for capturing him at any price. 

"Is a man bound to act straightforwardly towards such a scoundrel ? " 
said he. " How do you know that, when once he has received the money, 
he will keep his promise, and restore Mademoiselle Jeanne ? When he Mas 
beyond the reach of suspicion, of course he might have done so. It was 
his plan to be only a go-between. But now — " 

" Then what would you propose ? " asked Clairac. 

" To reply as he suggests, and to place in the post office two detectives, 
who will collar him when he comes to claim the letter." 

' ' And supposing he does not come himself ? " 

' ' Then who would ? An accomplice ? By arresting him, we should get to 
know where they were to meet." 

' ' No, " said Paul, shaking his head. ". Read this last sentence again : 'Do 
not be guilty of the folly of calling in the police. You would run the risk 
of losing your daughter altogether, and you would not capture me.' " 

"Pure bluster." 

"Has it not been your own experience, that this man has no need of 
bluster ; he is master of the situation ; we must knock under." 

" What, yield to that scoundrel ! " 

" Well, do you want to see him carry Jeanne off again, on wanderings 



174 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

which are killing her ? " cried Paul, piteously. " Let us give him what he 
demands, as quickly as possible ; what matters it, as long as he restores 
the poor child to us ? " 

" You are right, Paul. No, no more tricks, no more struggles. I shall 
write and tell this man that I accept his conditions and that I will remit 
my daughter's ransom as soon as possible." 

' ' Very good, " said Pringy to himself ; ' ' I'm neither father nor lover and 
shall go to work on my own account." 



LI. 

THE AMBUSCADE. 

"They don't want me to inform the police," said Pringy to himself. " I 
can understand that. The police, once set in motion, will not stop. Now, 
there maj come a time when it will be dangerous to go on — if Loyal- 
Franccaar did not come himself, for instance — and if, by capturing his 
emissary, we risk losing the girl altogether — a thing which he threatens, 
but which I don't believe him capable of doing. So I shall think out alone 
the best thing to be done. As in the old days, when I commanded a squadron 
of hussars, I shall act as pioneer." 

At this moment he saw Victor, who was returning from the Prefecture. 
As he had promised, the chief of police had explained matters to the magis- 
trate in such a way as to exhibit him as more unfortunate than criminal. 
He had made M. Dauffin see that it was to the interest of justice to make 
use of the young man as an instrument in capturing the true culprit. 
When Loyal-Francoeur had been arrested, they could try Victor with him 
and leave it in the hands of the jury. M. Dauffin had accordingly signed 
an order for his temporary release. Victor, his mind at ease, had gone to 
reassure his mother and sister. He learnt through the doorkeeper, who had 
suddenly become very gracious, that Madame Borin and her daughter were 
with Colonel de Rieumes and he hurried thither, all joy at this good news. 
After having given him time to kiss Madame Borin and Louise, Pringy 
made a sign to come and talk to him, and drew him into a window recess. 

" You have heard the latest news ? " he asked. 

"No, sir; what is it?" 

' ' Loyal-Francoeur has written to the colonel. " 

' ' With what object ? " 

" To propose to him to restore his daughter, in consideration of a ransom 
of three hundred thousand francs." 

" The wretch ! And what did the colonel reply ? ' 

' ' He accepts. " 

'' But is he certain that it is not a fresh trap ? " 

" That is what I asked him ; but he cares not." 

" He will not inform the police and have the scoundrel arrested ? " 

" No. He is afraid of risking his daughter's life, and Clairac is of the 
same opinion." 

"And you?" 

" I ? I determined to let them have their own way, and go in for action 
myself, and I counted on your assistance." 

" And you were quite right. I consider that it would be a wrong step 
to allow that wretch to lay hands on the fruit of his crimes. My remorse 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 175 

is great for not having unmasked him on the first day, and it is my duty 
now to repair that fault." 

" Well spoken, young man. And now, this is my plan." 

"I am listening, M. le Comte." 

"In his letter Loyal-Francoeur asks for an answer before five o'clock. 
Now, for that to be possible, it must be posted by two o'clock at the latest, 
so as to come within the afternoon delivery. Loyal-Francoeur, who knows 
that and is distrustful, will be certain to go and fetch it or send for it 
earlier than he says. " 

"That's likely." 

" We must go at once to La Villette. We will explain to the postmaster 
what is going on, and will ask him to conceal us behind the counter. When 
anyone comes to claim the letter, if it is Loyal-Francoeur himself, we will 
spring on him and arrest him. If it is,, as I should be inclined to believe, 
a simple messenger, we will follow him s at a distance, so as not to be seen, 
and find out where he goes. In th,at way, we shall perhaps succeed in dis- 
covering where he himself is hiding, and especially where he is hiding his 
prisoner. " 

" Right ; I'm at your service. There's only one thing that bothers me.'' 

" What is that ? " 

" I should have liked to take Isidore. You know, the young man who 
was with me." 

"The hump-back." 

" Yes ; he is intelligent and cunning. He might have been very useful 
to us. It was he who first discovered Loyal-Francoeur under his disguise, 
when the police thought he was in Belgium." 

" Well, bring him, what prevents you? " 

" He has suddenly disappeared. He left us yesterday, to go to break- 
fast ; he ought to have met us again at six o'clock at the chief of police's 
office. He did not come. An officer was sent to his lodgings in the Rue 
des Canettes His landlord had not seen him for two days. " 

" That's strange. Has nothing happened to him ? " 

'' I don't think so. More probably he has discovered some fresh clue 
and is following it up alone, in the hope of a good reward. It's very 
annoying. He might have been most useful to us. Well, perhaps he's 
doing good work alone. " 

" Well, let's say good-bye to the colonel and go. We'll have something 
to eat on our way." 

" I'm at your orders." 

The count went and shook hands with Monsieur de Rieumes, who had 
just been himself to post the answer which he had written to Loyal-Fran- 
cceur. Full of the hope of seeing his darling Jeanne again, the old soldier 
felt himself revive and was already counting the hours which separated 
him from the appointment which Loyal-Francceur would no doubt make 
with him. Victor and M. de Pringy went and, as they had planned, made 
their way to the La Villette post office. The postmaster at first raised 
some difficulty at acceding to their request. But when the count had 
given him a formal promise that they were only making use of this 
strategem in order to try and recognise an individual ; that they would 
only try and arrest him outside, and that consequently there would be 
neither commotion nor scandal in the office, he consented to admit the two 
men at half-past three. They went and had breakfast in the meantime 
and avoided showing themselves in the neighbourhood. At half-past three 



176 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

exactly they returned to the office and the postmaster let them in and 
placed them behind a wicket close to that of the poste-restante. This 
wicket, of course, was closed. Half an hour, an hour, two hours passed. 
The two watchers began to be afraid that Loyal-Francoeur had been warned 
of their presence by some unknown emissary, or had changed his mind and 
would not come at all. 

" Perhaps he only mentioned that time in order to hurry the colonel," 
said Victor, " and doesn't intend to come till much later." 

"Silence," muttered Pringy, squeezing his companion's arm. 

Some one had just come to the poste-restante wicket, and in a squeaky 
voice, which was not altogether unknown to the two men, asked timidly : 

" You don't happen to have a letter for the initials, L. P., No. 13 ? " 

Victor and Pringy reached eagerly towards the wicket and stifled a cry 
of surprise. 

"The hump-back ! " they exclaimed together. 

The hump-back, too anxious to notice what was passing inside the office, 
stretched out his hand with its skinny fingers to take the letter which the 
clerk was looking for. 

" Now, let's follow him quietly," said Pringy. 

" Ah ! the little serpent, the little traitor ! " muttered Victor. " There's 
some fresh trick of Loyal-Francoeur's in this. If he came to fetch me, if 
he feigned zeal, it was to get to know what we thought and carry it back 
to his master. Little dog, you shall pay for this ! " 

They went towards the door. The hump-back, having received his letter, 
went off. They followed him at a distance. He walked quietly to the 
omnibus office, where he took a ticket for vSaint-Sulpice. The conveyance 
arrived, and he got on the top. 

" Quick, Victor," said the count, "a cab." 

Victor ran to the rank. The two men got into a cab and gave the man 
orders to follow the Saint-Sulpice 'bus. The Jehu calmly lit his pipe and 
started. Victor at one window and Pringy at the other did not lose sight 
of the hum-pback, who was well in view on the top of the 'bus. At the 
halting-places the cab stopped in front of a door, and drove on again when 
the 'bus started. At Saint-Sulplice the hump-back got down and began to 
run in the direction of the Rue de Grenelle. He got as far as the Rue de 
Bellechasse and then made his way to Colonel de Rieumes' house. 

"Well, that's rather too strong," said the count. 



LH. 

Isidore's adventures. 

" Stop, little wretch ! " cried Victor, springing out of the cab, and seizing 
the hump-back at the moment when he was holding out his hand to ring 
the bell. "Stop and explain your conduct." 

" Ah ! Monsieur Victor, I am pleased to see you ! " cried Isidore, clasp- 
ing his hands. 

"Pleased! Well! talk about cheek ! " began the young man indignantly ; 
but the count, pushing his elbow, interrupted him, and said in a much 
calmer voice : 

"Monsieur Victor is very angry that you did not come to the Prefecture, 
as you had promised, and that you upset all the arrangements." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 177 

"Yes," continued Victor, understanding the count's intention, and 
mastering his anger ; " yes, you prevented us from getting to work." 

" It wasn't my fault, gentlemen. If you only knew what had happened 
to me. It was terrible, terrible ! " 

"And the dog ? What have you done with the clog ? " 

" He has got it again, he. ! " 

" Who ? " asked Pringy. 

" Loyal-Franeceur. " 

"What! you have seen Loyal-Francoeur ? " cried the count, feigning 
surprise. 

" Alas ! " 

" And you did not have him arrested ? " 

" On the contrary, he arrested me and imprisoned me a whole day and a 
night in a dark room. It's a novel, a regular novel." 

" Nonsense ! tell us about it," said Pringy. " I adore novels." 

"Enough, Monsieur le comte," interrupted Victor, "don't let us listen 
to the wretch's lies. Let us make him come into the house first, and 
force him to explain his conduct." 

"What conduct? What? What do you mean?" cried the hump-back 
anxiously. 

"That we have just come from La Villette, you little scoundrel ! and 
that we saw you go into the post-office and take the answer for Loyal- 
Francoeur. " 

' ' That's true, " said Isidore. ' ' But if you'll only listen — " 

" Listen to what ? Lies ? " 

" Let him tell. But first let us go into the house." 

They entered, and went up to the smoking-room. 

" Now then, speak," said the count. 

"Well, you must know, that yesterday I went quietly off to have 
breakfast at a public-house — a modest breakfast, as beseems my position— 
and I don't know how it happened — Loyal-Prancoeur must have spies 
everywhere. They certainly made me drink a narcotic, for in a minute I 
fell asleep. " 

" You had probably drunk too much," remarked Pringy. 

"Oh, no. Well, no matter. About six o'clock, shaking off my drowsi- 
ness, I went out to go to the Prefecture. When I arrived at the outer 
boulevard — " 

"What, the outer boulevard, to go from the Rue du Bac to the Cite ? " 
said the count. 

" No, I'm wrong, I mean the quay. When I got to the quay I was 
seized by four men." 

" At six o'clock in the evening ? " 

"Certainly. That proves their audacity. Four men seize me, gag me, 
carry me off and shut me up in a prison." 

"Where?" 

"How should I know? It was as dark as pitch. Armed with pistols 
and daggers, they kept me there all night. You can imagine my fright." 

As may be seen, the hump-back exaggerated slightly the gravity of his 
adventures. But he thought that by dramatising the thing a little it 
would produce more effect on his listeners. It is only right to say that he 
succeeded very imperfectly, for neither Victor nor the count believed a 
word of his tale. But they made no remark, and waited till the end, 

" And how did you get ou+? " asked Pringy. 



178 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" I'm going to tell you. After a night passed in mortal agony, and as I 
was wondering whether they had left me there to die of hunger, Loyal- 
Francceur and his acolytes enter — •" 

" How many of them were there, exactly ? " 

" There were only two of them, this time ; but what could I do alone, 
worn out with fatigue, and my limbs cramped by the cords with which 
they had bound me, against two strong men ? — What did I say, strong ? 
One of them is a giant. But you must have seen him ? " 

"Where?" 

" At the post-office, of course ; he was there with me. But let me goon 
with my story." 

" Go on, and hurry yourself," said Victor, who believed less and less of 
the hump-back's tales. 

" Well," continued the latter, " they enter the room. Loyal-Francceur 
unbinds me, whilst the other man puts a bandage over my eyes. I have a 
great mind to tell them that, being as dark as it was, this bandage was 
superfluous ; but they had shown me already that it was no good arguing 
with them, so I let them have their own way. When they had blind- 
folded me we went out, and I felt the fresh air of the street. I should have 
been glad enough to have a look round. But that was impossible. The 
sound of a train, however, which arrived and stopped, struck my ears. 
We were therefore near a station, and as we had not passed the barrier — 
I noted that fact afterwards — it must have been the Ceinture." 

"Ah," said Pringy, who began to be interested in the hump-back's story. 

" Wait a minute. We went a little way — along some large streets which 
rau uphill — and then turned to the left. It appeared to me that the street 
was more lonely. We walked straight on, for a long time. I ought to 
have counted the steps, but at the moment unfortunately I did not think of 
it. But we stopped once, and I was able to come to the conclusion that we 
were in front of some great workshop — a forge, or foundry, or something of 
that kind — for I heard the sound of the hammers and the roaring of the 
fires. All at once a dull roar sounded — another train passing — a train, 
amongst the noise of hammers. We were near the works of some railway." 

" VVell reasoned. Go on." 

" After that we turned sharp to the right, then to the right again, and I 
could still hear the forge and the rumble of the trucks. We went over a 
a bridge — a railway bridge, for an engine was whistling just under us — 
turned once more to the right, and we were in the square of La Chappelle. 
There they took the bandage off my eyes." 

"Well?" 

"Then the man who was with Loyal-Francceur took hold of one of my 
arms, and Loyal-Francceur of the other, and we walked along the boulevard. 
They had taken care to tell me that at the least attempt to escape they 
would kill me, so I was not at all inclined to do so. They led me to the 
Rue de la Charbonniere, and made me go into a public-house, and up the 
stairs to the first floor. It's a peculiar house. There are three rooms 
altogether, and you must go through the first two to get to the third, and 
there are swing doors to each one which shut of their own accord. We 
went into the third one." 

' ' And how long did you remain there ? " 

" All clay. The landlord, who, by-the-bye, was a curious-looking man, 
and more like a bandit than a tradesman, brought us up breakfast, to 
which, as you may guess, I did not do much j ustice. As for Loyal-Francceur 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 179 

and the other man, they laughed, drank, and played cards. Once I started 
to go towards the window — a little window with cotton blinds carefully 
closed. Loyal-Francceur made a sign to the other man, who got up. I 
didn't move ag-iin. At last, at five o'clock, they called the landlord and 
paid the bill. Then they took me by the arm again and led me to La 
Villette-circus. There my former master gave me his orders. To go, in 
charge of another man, into the post-office, ask for a/oste restcuite letter, 
initials L. F. No. 13, slip it into my guardian's hand and go away. And 
that's what I've just done." 

"But, the letter?" 

" The man took it away with him." 

"And you did not call for help at the post-office and inform against the 
scoundrel ? " 

" Thanks, he had shown me an open knife that he had in his hand, telling 
me that at the first suspicious word that I spoke, he would stick it in my 
back." 

"That man thinks of everything!" cried Victor, discouraged. "He 
had foreseen our step and had taken his precautions. Whilst we were 
running after Isidore the bearer of the letter had rejoined him in safety." 

" He was certain enough that I should not amuse myself by following 
him," said the hump-back ; " I was only too glad to get out of their clutches. " 

"But you could at least recognise the man who accompanied you there ? " 
said the count. 

" I should think so. And, between ourselves, I think that, thanks to 
my observations, I can do better than thau 1 ' 

" What ! do you think you can find the house where they shut you up ? " 

"Not by myself ! " said the hump-back, shuddering at the thoughts of it. 
"But with a good escort to protect me." 

" Well, let's try it ; come along, quick ! " 

" No. Wait. During the day the appearance, and, above all, the noises 
of the street are different. We'll try to-night, after dark." 

"All right. And, as you want an escort, we'll go and ask the chief of 
police for one. Does that suit you ? " said Pringy, looking keenly at the 
hump-back. 

" I should just think so. I sha'n't run the risk of falling into their hands 
then ; they made awful threats, you know." 

" Well, let's go to the Prefecture." 



LIII. 

IN WHICH THE HUMP-BACK CONTINUES TO BE ON THOBNS. 

The chief of police was at the Prefecture with M. Manuel, the commissary 
who had first taken in hand the San-Fernando murder case. But it was 
not in connection with this case that M. Manuel had come. M. Manuel 
had in his district a band of marauders who devastated gardens and hen- 
roosts. Orders had been given to the police to take the thing in hand, and 
the police had discovered nothing. Now, on the night before, the inspectors 
had arrested four great roughs in the act of climbing an orchard wall. So 
M. Manuel was in high glee, and had come expressly to enjoy this triumph. 
The chief of police had congratulated him good-humouredly. Knowing 
nothing of those petty jealousies which, unfortunately, in the police, as in 



180 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

many other services, interfere with the working, and cause half the cases to 
end in failures, he had been delighted at the capture of the four ruffians, 
among whom he felt certain of finding some old acquaintances well and 
duly catalogued in his books, and very probably wanted by him for other 
misdeeds. M. Manuel's triumph was therefore a trifle incomplete. In 
order to console himself he thought he could do no better than rake up the 
old Rue des Chantres case and ask for news about it, which he knew in 
advance could not be good. 

" And the celebrated Loyal-Francceur case? " he asked all at once, as if 
by chance, " how is it going on ? " 

"Oh, it's still going quietly on," said the chief of police, with his 
malicious smile. 

" Then you haven't given it up yet ? " 

" I never give anything up. I sometimes lay a case down for a month, 
six weeks, more, if necessary. When everyone has forgotten it I take it up 
and study it afresh. In that way I've got rid of wrong first impressions 
and often see my way more clearly." 

" Very curious. And, as regards this case, you still have hope ?" 

' ' More than ever. " 

' ' But yet Loyal-Francoeur outdid you at every turn ? " 

" All the more reason why I should have my revenge. Such is the game, 
sometimes you lose, sometimes you win. I lost the first hand, I have a 
chance to win the next. " 

" And do you count on. having this revenge soon ? " 

"Possibly." 

" But the murderer has left France ? ' 

"Who can tell?" 

"Oh, my dear colleague," cried M. Manuel, carried away in spite 
of himself, " don't torment me any longer. You must know something 
new. I'm interested in the case as well. Tell me. What is it ? What is 
your hope ? " 

"I hope for everything, and shortly." 

" Then you have some fresh clue ? " 

The chief of police smiled again, went up to the fire-place, took a cigar- 
ette, lit it calmly, went and sat down in his arm-chair again, and said : 

"Listen." 

As he was opening his mouth to begin his story, Coirat, the usher, opened 
the door and handed a small piece of paper to his chief. 

" Here," said the chief of police, after having read the paper, and holding 
it out open to his colleague. " Read for yourself." 

" The Comte de Pringy, Victor Borin, and Isidore ! " read M. Manuel 
with satisfaction. " What does it mean? " 

"You will see. Show the gentlemen in." 

Pringy, Victor, and the hump-back were shown in. 

"Weil, gentlemen, what news?" asked the chief of police. "My col- 
league, M. Manuel," he added, introducing the commissary. 

" Irecognise this gentleman," said Pringy, "it was he who arrested me." 

"You don't bear me any ill-will, I hope, sir ? " 

"Not at all. You did your duty." 

" Well, to business," said the chief of police. " There must be something 
fresh, for all three of you to come ? " 

" Something of importance, sir," said Victor; "Isidore has passed the 
night in the scoundrel's lair." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECF. 181 

" Ah ! then that's why we waited in vain for him last night. Where is 
the lair?" 

" We are going to ask you for help to find it again. But he must tell 
you his story. 

" I'm listening with all my ears ; listen, too, Manuel. You may be 
able to help us with your advice. " 

Without noticing the possible irony of these words, M. Manuel 
prepared to listen. The hump-back began his tale. He omitted not a 
single detail. 

The chief of police, after having handed cigars to his guests, had thrown 
away his own cigarette and was taking notes. When Isidore arrived at 
that part which related to the direction which he had followed, he took up 
a map of Paris and began to study it. 

"It would be a decidedly difficult task to follow your wanderings on the 
map," he said, when the hump-back had finished. "But would it not be 
possible for you to find your way backwards ? " 

"That is what we came to propose," cried the count. 

" That is settled, then. But we must have a picked escort. " 

" Is Fauvette there ? " he asked, putting his head out of the door. 

" Yes, sir, he has just come in." 

"Call him, and Antheaume and Gustave." 

The three inspectors presented themselves and awaited their orders in 
silence. 

" We have a fresh clue for Loyal -Francceur," said their chief. " He is 
in Paris, defying us. We must finish him off. An opportunity presents 
itself to-night. Let us try and arrest him. Get ready, we shall start in 
ten minutes. " 

The three detectives bowed and went out. 

"Are you coming with us?" asked the chief of police of M. 
Manuel, who was quite dumbfounded at all that had passed. "You've had 
a grudge for a long time against Loyal-Francoeur. " 

" I'm quite willing. But I hope we shall be more fortunate than in the 
Kue des Chantres expedition," said the commissary, with a touch of 
sarcasm. 

" Oh, who can tell. The best hunter may return with an empty bag, and 
especially with such game as this. Ask these gentlemen about the fresh 
tricks he has played us during the last week. You have known him 
already as an old man, a young one, a sham blind one, and how many 
more I don't know. He escaped from us disguised as a woman. A few 
days ago he was strolling about Paris with a south countryman's copper- 
coloured skin ; the clay before yesterday he recaptured Mademoiselle de 
Rieumes, by introducing himself as her father, and he was so well made 
up, that the witnesses hesitated, even in the presence of the colonel him- 
self. Who knows what we shall find him ? A policeman, perhaps. For 
my part," he added, laughing, " every time I go to the Palais I ask myself 
whether the magistrate is really the magistrate or only Loyal-Francoeur in 
disguise." 

" Why, the man's Eocambolus in person." 

" No. Rocambolus employed in the defence of the oppressed and un- 
happy the talents which God had given him. This man employs his in 
theft and crime. And there's no hope of ever converting him." 

" But at least you hope to make an end of him ? " 

" You see what we have to go on. A clue that we are going to follow 



182 DISPATCH AND SBCRKOY. 

up after the fashion of the man in the Arabian Nights who had a corpse to 
carry. Unfortunately M. Isidore did not count his steps, like the tutor 
in the legend. We shall do our best. But here are our men. Let's be off." 

They started for La Chapelle-circus. Once there, they blindfolded 
the hump-back, and the chief of police and Victor each took hold of an 
arm. Close behind them walked M. Manuel and his former prisoner, 
Pringy. Then came the detectives, wearing blouses, and not appearing to 
know the others, from whom they kept at a certain distance; prepared to 
come up at the first alarm, the first signal. From the circus Isidore 
followed without hesitation the Grande-Rue de la Chapelle. He was quite 
certain that it was by way of it that he had been conducted. But at the 
very beginning a difficulty presented itself. Must he turn off at the Rue 
Dondeauville or the Rue Ordener ? Each o± these has a bridge passing over 
the Northern line. 

"Didn't you mention some place where you heard at the same time 
hammering and trains ? " asked the chief of police. 

"Yes." 

' ' Well, let's turn up the Rue Ordener. That brings us nearest to the 
company's works." 

They followed the road indicated. Suddenly the hump-back placed his 
foot in an enormous puddle of water, with which he drenched his companions. 

" Sapristi ! I'm wet through," muttered Victor, shaking his wet trousers. 

" Don't grumble. I know this puddle. I got into it this morning. We 
turn here. We ought to be alongside the works. " 

" Quite right, we're in the ftue de Poissonier, which skirts the works,'' 
said the chief of police. "Only they are shut up for the night. That's 
the reason you don't hear anything." 

" Good. Now which is the long and almost straight street on the left ? '' 

" The Rue Championnet which joins the Avenue de Saint-Ouen and runs 
by way of the Rue Balagny, as far as the Avenue de Clichy." 

" That must be it. Is there a station not far from it ? " 

" Yes, the Ceinture Station.'' 

" That's the style. Take the bandage off my eyes. I can find the way 
110 w." 

Victor cast an inquiring glance at the chief of police. In spite of all the 
hump-back's affirmations, in spite of the appearance of reality which his 
strange story had just begun to assume, he was not yet completely con- 
vinced. He asked himself whether all this rigmarole was not a pure in- 
vention of Isidore's fertile brain, or whether — which would have been still 
worse — it was not a plot of Loyal-Francceur's which was intended to throw 
them on a false scent, whilst the scoundrel committed some fresh crime. 
The humpback's proposal was as a ray of light to him. Isidore wished to 
profit by the darkness and the deserted neighbourhood to escape at the 
first favourable moment. He turned round and called to Pringy who was 
still walking behind ivith M. Manuel. A hasty conversation took place, 
at the end of which it was agreed that the bandage which covered Isidore's 
eyes should be removed, but that they should continue to keep hold of his 
arms. 

" And at the first sign of flight, my dear sir," said Pringy, producing a 
revolver, " I shall put a bullet in your head. Don't imagine that I shall 
miss you. I can kill a swallow on the wing. " 

" It's needless," said the chief of police, "I've got firmly hold of him. 
Here, M. Victor, do as I do; it's infallible." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 183 

Passing his right arm under the hump-back's armpit, so as to hold the 
latter's arm like a lever on a pivot, he grasped his wrist in his right hand. 
With one simple movement he could thus have broken or dislocated his 
elbow. 

" When a man is collared like that he can't move much," he said, smil- 
ing. 

" But our good friend Isidore doesn't want to leave us, I'm sure." 

"No," said the hump-back, with a sigh. " Yesterday in a sack, this 
morning guarded by a giant, and to-night held in two vices. Talk about 
adventures ! " 

" Now then, forward, quick ! " said the chief of police. 

The little troop moved on. 



LIV 

PREPAKATIONS. 

To return to Loyal-Francceur. When a lucky accident had placed his 
former clerk in his power his first thought had been to wreak his revenge 
on him. He was furious with him for having recognised him on the Place 
de la Bourse and for having thus thwarted all his plans, disturbed his 
tranquillity and troub ed tie new existence which he had made for himself, 
out of reach of suspicion and troublesome attentions on the part of the 
police. We have seen that, believing himself safe in his new identity, the 
ex-inquiry agent proposed nothing less than to take his old office in the 
Rue des Chantres again and to recommence his nefarious proceedings, until 
the time when it should suit him to seek an honourable retirement and 
peacefully enjoy a fortune, laboriously, if not honestly, acquired. The 
wretched little hump-back had caused all this fair dream to vanish. On 
finding him in his power, Loyal-Francceur had had a ferocious idea. He 
had thought of venting all his hatred and killing his prisoner, awaiting 
the time when he could adopt the same course towards that other in- 
dividual who had first resisted him and who was now taking up arms 
against him — Victor Borin. He would have preferred Victor ; but a bird 
in the hand is worth two in the bush ; and for the moment he had to be 
satisfied with Isidore. The unfortunate hump-back had thus run a very 
great risk. But Loyal-Francceur reflected. He had to get Colonel de 
Rieumes' answer. To go and fetch that answer was a delicate task. He 
bethought himself of utilising Isidore. Accordingly he contented himself 
with keeping him prisoner all one night. We have seen what precautions 
he took in taking him from the Avenue de Clichy to La Villette so that he 
should not be able to find his way again. He had given him his instruc- 
tions, accompanied by the most terrible threats in case of treason. He 
felt certain that, terrified by his adventure, worn out by a night of agony, 
and, above all, menaced with Alcindor's dagger, the hump-back would 
obey blindly. Still wearing his mason's clothes — quite in harmony with 
the purlieus of the canal — he followed the two men as far as the post-office 
at the corner of the Rue d'Allemagne and remained there on the watch, 
pretending to light a "nose-warmer," innocent of all tobacco, and in whose 
bowl all the matches burnt fruitlessly away. He saw the hump-back, 
escorted by the mountebank, who followed him like his shadow, enter the 
post-office. A few seconds passed. The pretended mason, striking match 



184 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

after match on the leg of his trousers, felt his heart beat and the sweal 
break out on his forehead. The door re-opened. Boudillon came out 
alone. He made an imperceptible sign which reassured Loyal-Francceur a 
little. Appearing at last to give up all hope of lighting his incombustible 
pipe, the inquiry-agent walked along as far as the corner of the Rue 
Bouret, where he stopped, in order not to lose sight of the post-office. 
Alcindor came up to him, looking quite unconcerned. 

" Well ? " asked Loyal-Francceur, in a whisper. 

" I've got the letter," replied the mountebank. 

" Give it here quick. Where's the kid? " 

" He went straight in. " 

"No hitch?" 

"None." 

" Why doesn't he come out, then? " 

"There he is." 

The hump-back was just coming out of the post-office, looking sheepish. 
He looked to the right and left and walked towards the omnibus office. 

" You see — " began the mountebank. But Loyal-Francoeur clutched 
his arm. 

"See yourself," he said, pointing to Pringy and Victor, who followed 
the hump-back out of the office. 

" What ? " 

" Two detectives. They're after him." 

" Let's be off, then. He might betray us." 

"No, he suspects nothing. He's going. They can question him now. 
We'll go to your crib. I want to r.ead the letter. " 

"It's important, I should think ? " 

< ' Very important. But enough said. Let's be off. " 

They walked up the street, passed the market and came to the Rue 
Secr^tan. Then they glided through the booths until they came to 
Alcindpr's waggon. Once there, Loyal-Francceur broke the seal of the 
envelope. His face betrayed the liveliest satisfaction. 

' ' Good news ? " said Boudillon, who was watching on his face the result ol 
the letter. 

" Very good, my friend, so good that this time I hope we've hit the 
mark." 

" Ah, then you'll explain to me now, I suppose — " 

" Explain what ? and why ? What do you want to know, so long as 
things go on all right ? Do what I'm going to tell you, and if, as I believe, 
we conclude the business this evening, you'll have two thousand-franc notes 
extra in your cash-box." 

" Sapristi ! I sha'n't refuse. You've kept me on the trot long enough for 
nothing at all, and it's about time I saw the colour of your money. Well, 
what's to do to-night ? " 

" Make ready to get out of this place. Feed your horse, he'll have a 
good journey to go. In an hour from now we must start and shall pro- 
bably travel all night. " 

"Whereto?" 

" I don't know yet. It depends. Is there a fair anywhere near ? " 

"Yes, the Reuilly municipality are organising a forest fete." 

"Well, we'll pretend to be going to Reuilly, it will be a pretext. 
Hurry up, there's not a minute to lose, " 

"And you?" 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 185 

" I've got to make a little trip. We'll start when I come back." 

The mountebank went off grumbling. It appeared to him that Loyal- 
Francoeur was treating him rather too much like a slave, and he began to 
be afraid that he was getting him to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for 
the pleasure of letting him see him eat them afterwards. As for the 
inquiry-agent, he went towards the Faubourg du Temple and entered the 
first post-office. Then he asked for a closed telegram form and began to 
write as follows : 

" Colonel, — I have received your reply. It would have suited me 
wonderfully well if two men, ready to lay hands on me if I had appeared, 
had not been posted in the office to which it was addressed. You ought to 
have known that I should take my precautions, and they will tell you 
themselves how they failed. But I want no more double dealing. It is 
with you alone that my business is, it is to you alone that I shall hand over 
Mademoiselle de Eieumes. Be, therefore, at ten o'clock this evening, alone 
and unarmed, at La Fourche, that is to say, the corner of the Avenues of 
Saint-Ouen and Clichy. A woman will come up to you and will tell you to 
follow her. You will do so, and she will take you to your daughter. 
There a man will hand her over to you, in exchange for the three hundred 
thousand francs agreed upon, and will withdraw. If, by your orders or even 
in spite of you, any one accompanies you, if my messenger has the slightest 
reason for suspicion, if his retreat, the exchange once effected, is in any way 
interfered with, Mademoiselle de Rieumes will be stabbed before your eyes 
and you will see nothing but a corpse. Look to it ; I never threaten in 
vain, and all my precautions are taken. " 

After having read this letter over again, Loyal-Francceur carefully 
fastened it down and addressed it. Then-, seizing the moment when the 
clerk, who was busy sending off a telegram, was working the handle and 
not looking at him; he placed it on the counter and walked quickly away. 
Following his instructions, the mountebank had fed and watered his horse, 
and the beast was even all ready harnessed. Loyal-Francceur opened the 
door of the "in-and-out." Madame Broussel was seated near the pallet 
upon which Jeanne was lying. The pug-dog was sleeping at the sick girl's 
feet. 

- ' How is she ? " asked the inquiry-agent. 

"Only so-so. She's rather delirious still, from the crisis. She thinks 
she sees her father and she's talking to him." 

"Give her her draught. She must sleep to-night." 

Madame Broussel got up without making any remark and went and 
fetched a bottle from the other end of the waggon. It was a draught of 
Alcindor's composition, a soothing draught, in which opium, as one may 
readily imagine, played the principal part. The midwife filled a dessert 
spoon and gave it to Jeanne : then she corked up the bottle again. 

"Give her another spoonful," said the scoundrel. 

"No ; it might be dangerous.'' 

" Nonsense, these nervous girls can easily stand a double dose. Wait a 
minute, I'll make her take it myself." 

He approached the bed. But Marquis got up and showed his teeth in a 
very significant manner. 

"What's up with your dog?" said Loyal-Francceur, surprised. "He 
wants to bite me now." 

"I don't know. Since this morning, he won't leave her bed." 

" He'll have to leave it soon, though." 



186 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" What do you mean ? " 

" That in a few hours I hope to be rid of her — in exchange for her value 
in shiners, that's understood." 

" What ! you've succeeded ? " 

" In coming to terms with the father. But wait a minute, Alcindor's 
calling me. It's time to start. Will you answer for it that she doesn't 
wake ? " 

" The effect of the draught ought to last at least five hours." 

" Right you are. Stop there at her side. I must go out and help 
Alcindor." 



LV. 

THE EXCHANGE. 

During the time that Victor, the Comte de Pringy, and the hump-back were 
arranging the evening's expedition with the chief of police, and whilst 
Loyal-Francceur and Alcindor, taking with them Madame Broussel and 
Jeanne, were starting for the Avenue de Clichy, the colonel, who had 
remained at home alone, received the inquiry agent's telegram. He re- 
flected for a few moments. Perhaps this proposal concealed some fresh 
trap. But what did it matter ? Weary of useless struggles and ruses, 
M. de Rieumes preferred to go right through with it. What risk would 
he run of being captured in his turn and held as a fresh hostage? Why ? 
and from whom demand the ransom ? Of being murdered ? To what end, 
since he was willingly bringing the money that they had demanded ? 

" And, besides," he said to himself, looking at the clock in order to 
calculate the number of minutes which remained before it was time to 
start. " And, besides, what matters risking my life? Would it not have 
been ended, and should I not already have sacrificed it, if it had not been 
for the hope that I have always clung to of seeing Jeanne again. If she 
were lost to me, my murder would spare me committing suicide." 

The clock pointed to nine. Without telling anyone, but fearful, on thecon- 
trary, of being seen and of provoking afresh some dangerous excess of zeal 
on Pringy's part, he slipped out of the house, carrying the three hundred 
thousand francs in bank-notes which he had realised during the day, and, 
as had been stipulated, without other weapons than his walking-stick. In 
a state of excitement which it is easy to understand, he walked to the cab- 
rank at the Pont-Royal, took a cab and drove to the Place Clichy. 
There he stopped the cab and went on foot towards La Fourche. Ten 
o'clock was striking when he arrived there. He cast an inquiring 
glance around him. No one was near but indifferent passers-by and 
a few quarrelsome drunkards who were coming out of a neighbouring 
tavern. M. de Rieumes went and stood by an advertisement-board, so 
as to be in the full light and more readily noticeable to those who were 
to fetch him. As he was bending forward under pretence of being able to 
better look at the advertisements, whose letters danced before his eyes, 
a woman of a certain age, muffled in a hood of black wool, pushed against 
him and whispered : 

"Come!" 

He turned round abruptly. The woman walked on down the Avenue de 
Clichy. He followed her at a few yards' distance. As she was passing 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 187 

through the shadow cast by a block of dark houses she turned round and 
signed to him to come to her. He hastened his pace and did so. 

"You are Colonel de Kieumes ? " asked the woman, stopping. 

" Yes." 

" Have you brought what is required ? " 

" I have it on me." 

" No one is with you ? " 

"No one, and I should add that, if my friends took certain steps this 
morning, it was unknown to me and against my will." 

"I do not know what you mean. My only orders are to conduct you, 
you alone. " 

" Go on, 1 will follow you." 

The woman walked on until she arrived opposite the omnibus office. 
There she stopped, took a key from her pocket, went up to a little cottage 
and opened the door. The colonel waited. 

"Follow me," said the woman, going in, "follow me, and have no fear." 

" I am not afraid," replied the colonel. " But — my daughter ? " 

" Silence, you shall see her." 

They entered. The woman shut the door. The room in which if. de 
Rieumes found himself was pitch dark. An assassin posted there in 
advance would have had an easy task in killing him and taking possession 
of his pocket-book stuffed with bank-notes. He did not even give this 
danger a thought. His whole mind was fixed on his daughter, his dear 
daughter, whom he was at last about to behold again. 

" Don't move," whispered the woman. " I'll strike a light." 

The colonel heard a click like that of a spring working. Then the 
sound of a door shutting. At the same time a pale and uncertain light 
appeared. He was alone in a little office whose only furniture was a bench 
running round it. Opposite him was a glazed screen pierced by a narrow 
wicket and hung on the far side with thick curtains. It was through this 
screen that the feeble light came which shone in the room where M. de 
Rieumes was standing. His conductress, by pressing a spring, had opened 
a door hidden in the woodwork and had lighted a jet of gas or a lamp 
which was standing there all ready. The place to which Madame Broussel 
— for she it was — had conducted the colonel was no other than the office 
taken by Loyal-Francceur under the name of Marius Nogale. The light 
came from the back room in which the hump-back had been imprisoned the 
day before and where Jeanne now was. 

"You are there, M. de Rieumes, and you consent to the bargain which 
I have proposed to you ? " 

"I consent," said the colonel, in a shaking voice, "but have done 
quickly." 

" Give me first of all your word of honour that you have brought no one 
with you and that you will not seek, the exchange once made, to hinder 
our flight." 

"I swear it on my honour," cried the wretched father. "But my 
daughter, my daughter ! " 

" Look ! " 

At this word the curtain flew suddenly back. A flood of bright light 
filled the room. M. de Rieumes felt all his blood fly to his heart. He 
caught hold of the edge of the wicket to prevent himself from falling. 
Opposite him, on a pallet bed, Jeanne was stretched, apparently asleep. 
She was still pale, and her emaciated face bore signs of the sufferings that 



188 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

ylie had gone through. Her long hair, lit up by the gas-jets above her 
head, was lying in fair curls on the pillows of coarse material. A smile, 
caused no doubt by some pleasant dream, parted her coral lips. On her 
right and left Loyal-Francoeur and the mountebank, their knives uplifted, 
seemed to be only awaiting a signal to stab their victim. M. de Rieumes 
uttered a terrible cry and made a movement forward, as if to smash the 
screen and rush to his daughter. But the daggers approached Jeanne's 
breast, who was still smiling. 

" One step more and she is dead," said Loyal-Francceur's harsh voice. 
" Remember our agreement." 

" What am I to do? " said the wretched father, not daring to move, so 
great was his fear of endangering his daughter's life or liberty. 

" Count the money in our presence, there, at that wicket, which will 
open." 

Issuing from the corner where she had been concealed, Madame Honors' 
Broussel advanced and opened the wicket. The colonel took his pocket- 
book out of his pocket and tried to count the notes. But his hands 
trembled and he could not keep his eyes from his child, who was still 
sleeping. 

" Count them," said Loyal-Francoeur to the midwife, " or rather, just 
take the packets. M. de Rieumes is too honourable a man to try and 
trifle with us in such a serious business." 

Madame Broussel took the six packets of fifty notes each and gave them 
to Loyal-Francoeur. The latter smiled, placed his knife on the bed, hastily 
examined the bundles and crammed them into his pockets. 

"Right," said he, coolly. "You have fulfilled your engagement; it is 
our turn now. You can open the door and come and embrace your 
daughter." 

Saying this, he walked towards the exit door of the back-room. His 
two accomplices did the same. But just as they were going out the mid- 
wife came back again. 

"Where's my dog ? " said she. " Marquis ! Marquis ! " 

" Devil take him," growled Loyal-Francoeur. " That cursed brute will 
get us hanged. Take him by the scruff of the neck and have done with it. 
We've got no time to dawdle away here.' 

The pug had gone to lie under Jeanne's bed. Madame Broussel seized 
and carried him off, without the colonel even noticing the incident. Loyal- 
Francoeur had caught up his celebrated bag and was in full flight. As he 
had been at last permitted, M. de Rieumes had opened the door of com- 
munication and rushed towards the bed where his daughter was still lying 
asleep. Trembling, he knelt down at her side, and with a thousand pre- 
cautions, like a mother who fears to awake her new-born child from its 
first slumber, imprinted a kiss on Jeanne's forehead. He uttered a terrible 
cry. Her forehead was icy cold. " Dead ! dead ! " he cried. And throw- 
ing himself back, he fell, overwhelmed with anguish, on the floor. 

All at once the sound of hurrying feet was heard outside and eight men 
rushed headlong into the room. They were the chief of police, Victor, the 
count, the hump-back, M. Manuel and three detectives. Having arrived 
at the end of the Rue de Balagny, they had explored the houses one by 
one, scrutinising, listening, searching, on every side. A vivid gleam of 
light issuing from an open passage had struck them. They had gone in to 
examine, and had seen Jeanne, still stretched on the bed, still lighted by the 
two gas-jets. 



DISPATCH .AND SECRECY. 189 

"Mademoiselle de Rieumes ! " cried the count. 

" And the colonel ! " said the chief of police, stumbling over the old 
man's motionless body. 

"Dead, both of them !" 

"No," said Pringy, laying his hand on the young girl's breast: "her 
heart is beating and her breathing is regular ; she is asleep or else in a 
swoon." 

" And the colonel, look, he's coming round." 

" What the deuce has been going on ? " muttered the chief of police. 

" Wait, he'll tell us. Help me to lift him up," said M. Manuel, putting 
his arm round the colonel and placing him on a chair. M. de Rieumes 
was, in fact, recovering consciousness. He opened his eyes and looked 
about him with a confused stare. Then he gradually recognised the count, 
Victor, and the chief of police. Suddenly the remembrance of what had 
passed returned to him. 

"Ah ! " he cried, with a sob, " Jeanne, my daughter ! dead ! dead ! " 

"No. She is alive, she is saved!" cried Pringy, who was holding 
Jeanne's hands and beginning to feel them grow warm in his. 

" You see," said the hump-back, who alone in the midst of this touching 
scene had remained self-possessed, " you see I was not lying. Look, here's 
the chair on which they made me pass the night ; the cords that they 
bound me with are there still." 

But no one listened to Isidore. They were all too much occupied with 
the colonel and Jeanne. 

" She lives ! You are sure of it ? " cried the former, whom Pringy's 
assurance completely revived, but who did not dare to believe in so 
much joy. 

" See for yourself, her hands are warm and her heart beats." 

"Oh ! good and merciful God ! " cried the old man, raising to heaven 
his eyes full of gratitude. " God has restored to me my daughter, may 
His name be praised." 

"Excuse me, colonel," said the chief of police gently, mastering his 
emotion and coming back to stern reality, " but if I am not mistaken, you 
came here by Loyal-Francceur's directions. " 

" Yes, sir ; but what is that to me now ? I have my daughter, I forgive 
the man and his accomplices." 

" Certainly ; but I don't forgive him, and even if I did, I have a duty to 
fulfil. Where is he? Where has he concealed himself? In which direction 
did he go ? " 

"I know not." 

" You must know, sir," said the count, with a touch of severity, finding 
these questions very ill-timed, "you must know that M. de Rieumes cares 
little about pursuing the criminals, as long as his daughter is safe. And, 
besides, he was unconscious and could have seen nothing. So it is im- 
possible for him to answer you. " 

" Granted, sir, but my duty is to try every means, and I ;ni trying. So 
as the colonel has recovered, as Mademoiselle de Rieumes is alive, and 
lastly, since I can neither interrogate them nor be of any service to you, 
you will allow me to continue my task, by trying, for want of something 
better, to find the traces of those whom the law orders me to pursue. 
Good-night, gentlemen. Fauvette, Antheaume, Gustave, come with 
me." 

"I shall come too," said M. Manuel. 



190 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" I should prefer, my dear colleague, that you remained with these 
gentlemen ; your presence may be necessary to them." 

" Quite right, I will stop here. Good-night." 

" Good-night. And now, forward ! " 

They left the room. M. Manuel, the count, Victor and the hump-back 
remained with the colonel at Jeanne's bedside. 

" We must get some cabs," said Pringy. "In one of them we will place 
Mademoiselle de Rieumes, on the mattress upon which she is lying, so as 
to move her as gently as possible. In the other we will place the colonel, 
who has need also of much care." 



LVI. 

THE MARKIAGE OF BLOOD. 

Twelve o'clock was striking. At this end of the Avenue de Clichy, as also 
in the small streets adjoining it, no sound but that of the clocks, re-echoing 
one another in the distance, disturbed the silence of the pitchy night. 
Straining both eye and ear, the chief of police and his men proceeded 
quietly, trying to discover some clue which would put them on the scent, 
But where were they to go? What direction had the scoundrels taken . 
Everyone was in bed. The last omnihus from the Odebn had put down its 
passengers on the way and was entering the yard empty, after which the 
gates were closed. No light in any window, not a foot-passenger. Yes, 
in the distance, near the barrier, where the excise-officers were playing 
cards round the stove, an uncertain light glimmered. 

"A rag-picker," muttered the chief of police. "Let's question him, at 
any rate. Perhaps he will be able to tell us something." 

Fauvette walked towards the man who was pacing slowly from right to 
left, and from left to right, swinging his lantern and seeking his harvest. 

" Hullo, mate ! ' he cried. 

The rag-picker came up to him. 

" You haven't seen two men running away in the direction from which 
you've just come ? " 

" I've seen several men. I don't know whether they were running away," 
replied the rag-picker in a surly voice. " What do you ask for ? " 

" I'm a police detective, and I'm pursuing some murderers," said 
Fauvette. 

" That's your look-out. Pursue them. I've nothing to tell you." 

He was about to proceed on his way, but the chief of police, who had 
come up, stopped him. 

" Hullo ! " he cried. " I think I know you." 

"That's possible," said the rag-picker, still in the same careless voice. 
" I see lots of folks." 

" You're from the Cit6 Maupy ? " 

" And if I was, what's that to you ? " 

"Why, it was you who found Mademoiselle de Rieumes," cried the 
chief, " and who came to my office to lodge information about her abduc- 
tion from your house. Are you not Prosper Martin ? " 

"The same. But, once more, why? " 

" Why, my man, don't you understand that the man that we are after is 
the same one that stole the young lady ! We've just discovered his place 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 191 

close to here and he has had the infernal luck to alip out of our fingers 
again. " 

" The fellow with the green eyes ! The sham colonel ! I'm your man ! " 
cried Prosper Martin. 

" That's it ; and now, have you seen anything ? " 

" Unfortunately, no ; but wait a minute. Yes, yes ; but it was not your 
man. Was there another man with him, and a woman with a dog ? The 
dog ! I seemed to know him. The dog belonging to the woman who used 
to come to our place, Mother Comfort's relation." 

"Madame Broussel ? ' 

" Madame Broussel ! It was her, her and the two men. Of course. 
Why ever didn't I think of it before ? " 

" What direction did they take ? " 

" I saw them at the corner of the Boulevard Bessiere. I was coming up 
the Rue Mercadet ; beginning my round here and working round to Mont- 
martre. They were going quick ; the dog came and sniffed at me, and 
wagged his tail, as if he recognised me ; and he did recognise me. One of 
the men whistled and he ran off. They turned to the right. They 
appeared to be following the fortifications." 

" Forward at the double," cried the chief of police. " We shall catch 
them up, perhaps. " 

"The basket can go to the devil, I'm going with you," said the rag- 
picker. 

All five of them set off at a run. 



On leaving the house in the Avenue de Clichy, Loyal-Francceur, Alcin- 
dor Boudillon, and the midwife walked rapidly to the end of the avenue. 
There they turned to the right, and judging that the dog would not try to 
escape now, Madame Broussel had put him on the ground. Then, feeling 
certain that they were not being pursued, they had slackened their speed. 
They had not far to go, however, for the "in-and-out" was standing in 
readiness close by, opposite one of the cites which open into the boulevard. 
On leaving the Rue Secr6tan, the little caravan made their way to the 
Avenue de Clichy, and the waggon had pulled up outside the house. The 
two men then took Jeanne out and laid her on the bed in the back-room. 
Thanks to the sleeping draught which the midwife had given her, this 
operation had been carried out without difficulty. Loyal-Francceur had 
remained with her, whilst the mountebank went and placed his conveyance 
in a lonely place where he could easily find it again after their business was 
done, and Madame Broussel had gone out to meet the colonel. Everything 
having terminated satisfactorily for Loyal-Francceur and his accomplices, 
they went back to the "in-and-out " again, with the intention of driving 
off and covering as much ground as possible during the night. Once at a 
distance, in the country, they would leave the waggon to chance, and 
would take a train at some small station for the frontier. The waggon was 
there, as well as the horse, who, with his nose deep in the nosebag, was 
finishing up his provender. No one had noticed it, or, if they had, they 
had not been surprised at it. It often happens that mountebanks camp 
thus for one night, no matter where, and continue their journey in the 
morning. Loyal-Francceur was placing his foot on the steps which led to 
the inside, when Boudillon stopped him. 

" Wait a minute," said he. ' ' There's a little formality to go through first. " 



192 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

•'What's that?" asked the other with surprise. 

" Settling our account." 

" Ah, quite right. But there's plenty of time, I suppose." 

"Not at all. There's no knowing who may live and who may die. Short 
reckonings make long friends. You're taking it rather cool." 

"All right," said Loyal-Francoeur, crossly. "Here you are, here's 
what we agreed on." 

He took a pocket-book from his pocket, went up to the lamp and took 
out four five-hundred-franc notes which he handed to his companion. The 
latter shrugged his shoulders. 

" You're having a lark, I suppose ? " 

" Why ? wasn't this what I promised you ? " 

" Yes, when I knew nothing. But now I know the importance of the 
affair, I want my half." 

" Your half ! " cried the inquiry agent, with surprise, not unmixed 
with terror. 

" Share and share alike, like two good comrades. No swindling between 
man and man now. We've worked together, it's the ' marriage of blood.' 
One of us is as good as the other. Come on, out with the ' flimsies,' and 
quick about it ! " 

The tone in which the mountebank spoke proved clearly that there was 
no use arguing with him. As for resistance, that was not to be thought 
of. Strong and courageous as Loyal-Francceur was, he was no match for 
the giant. For a second he thought of using his revolver. But owing to 
the nearness of a fort occupied by a troop of soldiers, the risk was too 
great. He might therefore as well make up his mind to part. That was 
what Loyal-Francoeur did, in spite of his rage and the yearning for re- 
venge which tortured him. He took out slowly, one by one, as if he had 
been drawing his teeth, the notes which the colonel had given him for 
Jeanne's ransom. Alcindor watched him. Loyal-Francoeur was looking 
at these notes from which he was about to be obliged to part. He gazed 
at them fondly, seeming hardly able to take his fingers off the soft and 
silky paper. 

" Well, have you nearly done ? " asked the mountebank roughly, placing 
his large, heavy hand on Loyal-Francoeur's shoulder. The inquiry-agent 
shuddered. 

"Yes, here you are," he said in a choking voice. "Here, dog, take 
them, catch hold." 

"You're not very polite," said the monntebank, laughing, "but I'm 
not thin-skinned. And, besides, actions are better than words," he 
added, picking up the notes, which Loyal-Francceur had thrown on 
the ground. "Now that we're quits, and good friends, we can go on. Get 
in." 

In spite of his fury, Loyal-Francceur took up his bag and got into the 
waggon, Madame Broussel was already there with her dog. Alcindor be- 
gan to raise the ladder which served as a step. Suddenly the sound of 
hurrying feet was heard in the distance. 

" What's that ? " cried the mountebank, straining his ears. 

" Some one running," replied Loyal-Francoeur, leaning out 

" Can they be after us ? " 

"Who?" 

" Why, the police that the old man has set on our track. And look 
they've got a lantern. Get in, get in, quick, and let's be off." " ' 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 193 

He thrust the ladder into the van. But the dog had been too quick for 
him and had jumped out. 

"Marquis, my dog ! " cried the midwife. 

"Damnation ! " said Loyal-Francceur, "always that cursed dog. Catch 
him quick, Alcindor, or we're cooked." 

But the dog had no intention of allowing himself to be caught. Slipping 
away from the mountebank, he started barking furiously. 

" Mille tonncrres ! " said the scoundrel. " This puts the finishing touch 
to it. Come here, you brute ! " 

" Kill him ! " cried Loyal-Francceur. 

Alcindor launched a furious kick which sent the unfortunate pug flying 
yards away. 

" Wretch, don't hurt my dog ! " cried Madame Broussel, trying to get out 
of the waggon. But Loyal-Francceur held her back with his iron grasp, 
whilst the mountebank, running up to the dog, who had got up with diffi- 
culty, kicked him furiously. 

"Ah ! cowards ! cowards ! " cried Madame Broussel, quite beside herself 
at this horrible sight. " Marquis, Marquis ! good heavens ! he's killing 
him. Help ! help ! " 

" Will you keep quiet ! " shouted Loyal-Francceur, placing his hand 
over her mouth ! But she bit it to the bone, and, profiting by the move- 
ment which the pain caused him to make, she began to call out again at 
the top of her voice : 

" Help, help ! murder ! " 

The sound of steps came nearer. Two or three men appeared in the 
distance on the dark boulevard, one of whom carried a lantern in his hand. 

" Murder ! Murder ! " cried the midwife once more. 

" So much the worse for you, you will have it," said Loyal-Francoeur in 
a hissing voice, plunging his knife into her breast. The unfortunate woman 
uttered a groan and fell out on the road. 

"Gallop! gallop!" cried the scoundrel. "Quick, they're overtaking 
us. 

The detectives, in fact, were only a few yards off. Springing on to the 
shafts, Alcindor lashed his horse, which started off at full speed. It was 
none too soon. The chief of police came up, followed by his men. As he 
was looking after the waggon, already disappearing in the distance, lie 
stumbled over some object. He bent down. By the flickering light of the 
lantern which the rag-picker carried he saw a woman lying on the ground 
in a pool of blood, and a dog, crushed out of shape, its ribs broken, its 
head half smashed, who, raising himself in a supreme and painful effort, 

ed to lick once more his dying mistress's hand. 

"The midwife ! " he cried, in amazement. 

" And her dog, the one that brought you to the Cite' Maupy," added the 
rag-picker. "However do they come here, killed, both of them, and what 
fresh mystery does this crime denote? " 

"Sir," said Fauvette, " the scoundrel wanted to force us to stop from 
pursuing them, and they sacrificed the woman and the dog." 

"The two beings who are no use to them henceforward. That's the 
slave-driver's plan, who, when he is chased by a cruiser, throws into the 
water the slaves who are ill or useless. The system is cruel, but clever." 

" What shall we do ? " asked Antheaume. 

" We can't leave this unfortunate woman here. She is not quite dead. 
Although she's not worth much, we must see to her. One of you run to tho 



194 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

Berzelius station — it's the nearest, I think — and fetch a stretcher ; we'll take 
her to the Beaujon Hospital." 

" But the rascals will escape," cried Fauvette. 

"What can we do? They're too far off already. And, besides, they 
have a horse, and a good one too. We can't follow them." 

" It's hard, just the same," muttered Fauvette between his teeth, " to be 
always getting that man within reach and then seeing him slip through our 
fingers." 

" His time will come, my lad. In the meantime, fetch the stretcher, 
quick ; that's of the most importance at present. Under a doctor's care 
the woman may be able to speak again, perhaps." 

The detectives set off in the direction of the Hue Berzelius, which was 
close at hand, and where there is a police-station. A quarter of an hour 
afterwards Madame Broussel was placed on a stretcher, which Gustave and 
Antheaume carried. The rag-picker lifted up the dog and placed him in 
the apron of his blouse. 

" Hallo ! " said the chief of police, looking about him, " where the deuce 
is Fauvette ? " 

But no one could inform him. Fauvette had disappeared ten minutes 
ago. 

LVIL 

THE QUARRIES. 

For a long time the horse kept up his rapid pace, but at last he was 
obliged to slacken speed. He was tired and covered with foam. They had 
gone far, however, and were certainly beyond pursuit. On the long network 
of roads which surrounds Paris within the fortifications they had not en- 
countered a single living soiil. Even supposing that the police had con- 
tinued their pursuit, it would be impossible for them to know which way 
they had gone, and if chance led them, too, to make the round of Paris, 
they could not come up within an hour or an hour and a half. Accord- 
ingly, the mountebank pulled his horse into a walk, and knocked at the 
door of the " in-and-out," which Loyal-Francceur had closed. The inquiry 
agent was in a gloomy state of mind. Not that he felt any remorse for the 
crime that he had just committed, no, we know that he was capable of no 
such feeling ; but he was tormented by anxiety. In the first place, he 
was afraid, in spite of the horse's rapid pace, of not escaping from his 
enemies. Then, however degraded was his heart, he had a kind of affec- 
tion for Madame Broussel — a matter of habit, perhaps — and he was vexed at 
having been under the necessity of killing her. Lastly, he was afraid that 
he had not killed her on the spot. 

" Supposing she came round again and betrayed me," he said to himself. 
To this vexation and uneasiness was added yet another. The hundred 
and fifty thousand-franc notes which he had been forced to give to Alcin- 
dor had caused him more woe than the loss of his old friend, and he won- 
dered with terror whether Boudillon would be contented, and not despoil 
him of the remainder. No. Monsieur Loyal-Francceur was anything but 
cheerful. When he saw the door open, and his accomplice's head appear, 
he started and clutched his revolver. 

"Now then, no nonsense," said the mountebank. "It's me, M. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 195 

Loyal. ' ' We came a good pace, and my horse is half foundered. I want 
a talk with you, to settle what we're going to do." 

Partially re-assured by these words, and especially by the cool voice in 
which they were said, Loyal-Francceur put his revolver back in his pocket. 

" What are we going to do ? Upon my word, I don't know. Are we 
safe from being overtaken, at any rate ? " 

" Oh, I can promise you that." 

" Well, let's talk it over. W 7 hat's your opinion ? " 

"Well, for my part, I thought of being able to live quietly, like I did be- 
fore, lifting weights, pulling out teeth, selling pomade, and such like. But 
since yesterday you've dragged me out in the light of day, and I'm easily 
recognised. The police have got my exact description by this time. I 
couldn't show my nose in Paris, without running the risk of being nabbed. " 

" Well ? " 

" Well, things being like that, I think the best thing to be done, for you 
as for me, is to give ourselves a change of air, and quickly." 

" Yes, but how ? " 

" Although my horse is about done, he can go a few miles yet, with care. 
We'll drive along a road parallel with the railway, and get into a train at 
some station or other. " 

"Yes," said Loyal-Francceur, thoughtfully, "that was my first plan. 
But I've changed my mind now ; I shall stop." 

"What! stop in Paris ? " 

"Yes." 

"What for?" 

" I have my idea." 

"But-?" 

" I don't think of the money only. 1 promised myself something else ; 
I want to have my revenge on two people." 

" Which two, if it's not an impertinent question ? " 

" First, Victor Borin, without whom all this would not have happened." 

" The man who let the girl escape from Nogent ? " 

"That's it." 

" And the other one, who is he ? " 

"The humpback." 

"The humpback? Saprisle ! you had a good enough chance to take 
your revenge on him when you had him shut up in the crib yonder." 

" Yes, but I had need of him then, and I never break a tool which may 
be of use to me again. " 

" Ha, ha ! old fox," thought Alcindor. " Then you'd be glad enough to 
get rid of me, now that you've got no more dirty work for me to do. It's 
useful to know that." 

"So I shall stop," continued Loyal- Francoeur. " As for you, Alcindor, 
there's nothing to keep you in France. " 

" When I come to thinkit over," said Alcindor, " I shall stop too." 

" But the police know you ? " 

" I shall disguise myself. Look here, old Loyal, play fair, for once in 
your life. You wanted to ' have ' me, and I let you see that Alcindor 
Boudillon was not so easy to ' have.' You're hatching something now. 
You want to stop in Paris for that reason, and you're going to run a risk, 
in order to find a comrade who's not quite so hard to satisfy as me. Well, 
I'll be satisfied with one third of the swag, if swag there is, and though 
you've just shown me that you're pretty hard to get over, I think I could 



19G DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

be useful to you when you come to settle accounts with Victor anil the 
humpback." 

" But where should we go, the two of us ? " 

" Where were you intending to go yourself? " 

" To a friend's, to ask for shelter." 

"A friend, and get sold. Come now! You're never so sure of one 
another as when you're ' wanted ' for the same crime. Us two, that's the 
style. Look here, do you know what my idea is ? " 

"No. Tell me." 

' ' Well, we're not far from the Buttes Chaumont. We'll take all the 
best of what's in the 'in-and-out.' Then we'll take the waggon to the 
canal and heave it iu, along with the horse. The waggon's known. When 
they find it there to-morrow they'll think we were in it." 

" Well reasoned. And we ? " 

" We ? While they're looking for our bodies in the canal we shall be 
coolly hiding away." 

" But where, where ? " 

"In some place where they'll never look for us, where the police will 
never think we should risk ourselves with our banknotes, for as a rule 
there's no one there but starving vagabonds — in the quarries." 

" The quarries ! " repeated Loyal-Francceur, shuddering. 

" Yes ; why, one would think the name frightened you." 

" Not at all. The quarries let it be. I shall have something to propose 
to j'ou when we get there." And he added to himself, "You want to get 
me into a trap. But I'm as cute as you, and I'll keep you waiting about 
on the chance of making something more of me." 

Determining, on his part, not to let him out of his sight, Alcindor took 
the horse by the bridle and led him towards the canal. There, after 
having taken a little bag from waggon and placed his banknotes in it, he 
brought the horse up on to the bank; then, suddenly, he pricked him with 
the point of his knife. The animal started, reared, and sprang forward. 
A loud crash was heard. Waggon and horse had. disappeared in the 
dark water. 

" Now follow me, Loyal. I'll show the way," said Alcindor. 

At the base of the Buttes Chaumont, or rather the Buttes (Saint 
Chaumont, as they were called before our anticlerical days, at the side of 
the tunnel of the Ceinture Railway, is the huge recess which forms the 
entrance to the. celebrated labyrinth of the quarries. They are not, like 
the caves of t'ingal and Adelsberg, or those of Rancogne, in the Angoumois, 
or the caserns of Cevennes, the work of nature. The quarries, like the 
quarries and catacombs on the left bank of the Seine, have been dug out 
by the hand of man. They are simply plaster quarries. But what 
quarries ! Their produce, if we are to believe Neiv Paris, published 
twenty years ngo by the late Emile de la Bedolliere, suffices not only for 
the needs of the capital, but is exported all over the world. Thanks to 
the canal, up which the vessels come to load the sacks of plaster, the 
cargoes can go direct to Havre, and from there to every quarter of the 
globe. America especially consumes enormous quantities of plaster of 
Paris, which is more workable than any other, is easily moulded, when 
fresh, and which, when once dry, is as hard as stone. To the Yankee, 
who buys his pictures by the square yard and his statues by the cubic foot, 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 197 

this plaster is an unspeakable boon, for, thanks to it, he can reproduce 
rapidly and at a moderate price the sculptures of the H6tel-de-Ville or 
those of the Are de Triomphe for the adornment of his villa. Accordingly, 
owing to this large demand, the quarries have assumed colossal proportions. 
In 1870 they had a superficial area of more than six acres, and since then 
have steadily increased. " There is no sight so imposing and so terribly 
superb as the interior of these vast catacombs," says the author of New 
Paris. "The massive pillars standing at stated distances to support the 
roof of the quarries, the light of the torches appearing here and there 
through the gloomy perspectives, the water which oozes from the ceiling 
and drips into the puddles with a musical sound, the distant songs of the 
miners — all this is to be met with in this haunt of gloom. Sometimes, too, 
the cry of " Sauve qui pent ! " is heard. Their the lights fly right and left ; 
absolute silence reigns for a minute; then a detonation causes the mountain 
to tremble to its very foundations, and anyone visiting the spot for the 
first time might think that some catastrophe had happened. But directly 
after the explosion the lights return to their points of departure, and the 
songs begin again louder than ever ; it was the springing of a mine." The 
quarries are legendary, like the catacombs of Paris. They are spoken of in 
more than one novel and drama, and they are always spoken of as being 
the haunts of vagabonds and thieves. And, in fact, after nightfall, in spite 
of the precautions of the watchmen, the vast caverns become the refuge of a 
crowd of poor wretches, hiding — some to escape from the hand of the law, 
others to avoid tramping the streets. They conceal themselves in aban- 
doned workings, at the risk of being crushed to death by falling masses, or 
else, in winter, they lie in the kilns which are still hot from the last 
burning, and it is no rare occurrence to find in the morning some poor 
devil smothered or roasted. From time to time a police raid purges the 
quarries. The next day all the vacancies are filled again. To those taken 
off to the Depot others have succeeded, and even those who appear in 
crowds before the magistrate are eager, their terms of imprisonment over, 
to go and take up their old quarters in their dear quarries. 

It was to this place that the mountebank took Loyal-Francceur, and the 
latter felt by no means comfortable at the prospect before him. The fact 
was that, unlike his companion, Loyal-Francceur had never experienced a 
life, of struggling misery. Crouching in his office, preying upon society 
more surely there than those who loaf about the streets after dark, he had 
made up his mind never to remove the mask until forced to do so. Now 
everything was upset, for the moment at least, and he was obliged to act 
accordingly, and; being at Rome, do as the Romans did. He timidly 
followed his companion. Alcindor, on the contrary, who seemed to have 
had a long experience of the quarries, made him enter by a fissure which 
was hardly perceptible and almost entirely concealed by clumps of shrubs. 

"We're going to camp here; then?" asked Loyal-Francceur, a trifle 
uneasily. 

" Lower, if you please; Loyal," said the mountebank, lowering his 
sonorous voice. " There may be some ears about that it won't do to trust 
our secrets to. No, we sha'n't camp here, this is only a halt. You'll see 
why directly." 

From the little bag that he had brought he took a dark lantern, struck 
a match and set a light to the wick, which began to burn , smoking and 
sputtering the while. Then he raised the lantern above his head. 

" Here, look here," he said. 



198 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

Loyal-Francceur looked up and saw the roof of the arch cracked in all 
directions and held up by beams of wood all worm-eaten and falling in 
piece?. He uttered a cry of terror and fled towards the gallery which he 
saw in front of him. 

" Stop !" cried Alcindor, "stop, sacrebleu ! you'll fall into the ' mustard.' " 

To those of our readers whom this purely local term may astonish, we 
must explain that what is known in the quarries as " mustard" are those 
places where the stagnant water, mixed with chalk-dust, mud, and refuse 
of every kind, forms a kind of bog, whose surface, solid in appearance, gives 
no suspicion of deepness or danger. These spots are therefore exceedingly 
dangerous and as treacherous as the quicksands of Brittany, or those of the 
Sandes, in which a man disappears before help can be given him. The 
workmen themselves, in spite of their lamps and their knowledge of the 
quarries, often fall victims to them. Nothing sounds more appalling to a 
miner than this cry — an odd one to a stranger — " A man in the mustard ! " 
Loyal -Francosur did not know the term. He stopped, however, foreseeing 
some danger, and asked : 

'■ What's the ' mustard ? '" 

" Why, that grey spot close by you. Don't you know the colour? If 
you'd taken one step more, it would have been all up with you. No more 
Loyal or this terrestrial globe. He would have been in the ' mustard,' 
and, once in the ' mustard,' there's no getting out." 

" All right," said Loyal-Francceur, who had little taste for this kind of 
pleasantry. " Take me to some other place, and don't talk so much." 

" Come along, then, and be careful." 

With infinite precautions he began to walk on. The inquiry agent, a 
prey to ever-increasing terror, followed him, pale and agitated. 

" Here," said the mountebank, on arriving at a kind of octagonal 
chamber at the end of the gallery, " here's a place that'll suit us splendidly 
and be out of the way of prying eyes. You might commit a murder in it," 
he added, laughing, " and no one would be any the wiser." 

Loyal-Francceur shuddered. What did these words mean ? Tempted 
by the hundred and fifty thousand francs which he knew remained in the 
bag, did the mountebank intend to murder and rob him ? A happy in- 
spiration struck him. 

" Is that so ? " he said, " are we certain not to be heard ? Well, now I 
can tell you, my old Alcindor, that what we've done is nothing. We've 
got to take more than double, more than treble." 

" Where? " cried the mountebank, whose eyes glistened. 

" I'll tell you to-morrow. I've need of rest now. Let's go to sleep." 

"Right," said Alcindor. 

They stretched themselves on the damp plaster, their heads resting on 
the bag which contained their treasure. But neither of them slept. 
Alcindor, whose appetite was whetted, was dreaming of future booty. 
Loyal-Francceur, ill at ease, was expecting every moment to be attacked by 
his accomplice. Every movement that the mountebank made caused his 
heart to leap, each drop of water which, oozing from the roof, fell with a 
dead sound on the floor, seemed to him like a murderer's footstep. Day 
came upon them, restless, tormented, and worn out with fatigue. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 199 

LVIII. 

THE TRIBULATIONS OF A REPORTER 

On the morning after this eventful night Gratien Voiville got up late. He 
had spent the night at a ball, and, tired out by an interminable cotillon, led 
by him with nfuria which had drawn upon him the praises of all the ladies, 
he had gone to bed promising himself a lazy morning. He had, moreover, 
no case in hand, for he no longer reckoned that of the Rue de Chantres, 
classified and abandoned long since, so he thought, by the police. He had 
shoved his notes on it into a drawer, until some chance, if ever one 
happened, should give him an opportunity of taking them out again. He 
did not get up until twelve o'clock, and a rapid glance at the principal 
morning papers having set him at his ease, he set out for the restaurant 
where he breakfasted almost every day. There conversations with two or 
three friends were productive of nothing fresh. Everyone was hard up for 
news and obliged to go to the drawers to try and' rake out something of 
interest. 

"Not a crime, not a fire, not an incident!" said Lapeyne, the 
Toulousian, with his Southern accent. " Absolute dearth ! " 

"I've had to kill a centenarian," replied Ackermann. 

" And I to fish out half a column about the Carnival that had been kick- 
ing about for the last week, and had been given twice already to the 
compositors." 

" The murderers are giving us a rest," said Dick de Courlay. 

" We shall have to go to work ourselves." 

" The Pierre Petits of reporting." 

"I say, Lapeyne, supposing you killed yourself, eh? It would make 
some ' copy ' for your friends. What do you say ? Now for it. We'll give 
you a splendid biography." 

" Thanks for the preference." 

" Have you got anything fresh, Voiville ? " 

" I've only just got up." 

" That won't fill two columns." 

" Oh, they managed to do so every day during the siege, with this 
sentence : The country is rising ! You might do it again with this one : 
Voiville has risen ! " 

The room gradually emptied. Gratien Voiville finished his breakfast, lit 
a cigar and strolled to the office. As he was going in with the placidity of 
a man who has absolutely nothing to do, he was informed that the editor 
wanted him. He went to his room 

" Have you the details of last night's affair? " asked the editor. 

" What affair ? " said Voiville, falling from the clouds. 

" What, you don't know of it? Whatever have you been doing? A 
woman murdered on the outer boulevard. Look, here's the message I've 
just received." He held out a piece of paper. It was one of those bits of 
information that good-natured souls often throw into the editors' boxes. It 
simply stated that a murder had been committed on the boulevard, near 
the Clichy Gate. The informant had seen the victim — a woman — at two 
o'clock, being carried on a stretcher by four men. 

" I hope you'll go and make up for lost time as soon as possible, and that 



200 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

yon won't allow yourself to be cut out by the other papers," said the editor 
rather severely. " Just fancy if I wasn't here. I'm obliged to tell you about 
the crimes." 

The reporter might have retorted that there was no great merit in that. 
But he had no time to argue. Putting the message in his pocket, he 
rushed downstairs. His first act was to jump into a cab and drive to the 
Prefecture of police. There they would give him a rough idea and some 
useful information. He went up to the office where the policemen's reports 
are communicated — after expurgation. He turned over the papers fever- 
ishly. Nothing. He hurried off to the municipal police office. There 
they deigned to give him a little information. But so little ! The police- 
man's report mentioned solely that at one o'clock a detective had come to 
the Berzelius station to fetch the stretcher for a woman who had been 
murdered. But who was the woman, and under what circumstances had 
she been killed ? No one knew. The report mentioned the return of the 
stretcher, but that was all. Voiville rushed down the three flights of stairs, 
jumped into his cab again and drove to the Batignolles police-station, which 
is near the Rue Berzelius. After he had sent in his name, the commissary 
received him very graciously, called him into his room, paid his paper some 
compliments and referred to the interesting news contained in it every day, 
praised such and such an article, but declared to him that lie knew not a 
word about the murder of which he asked for news. 

" It's certainly not in my district," he added. " The news is false, or else 
there has been some confusion. Perhaps it's only an accident, in which my 
presence is not called for. That's why I have not been called. But go and 
inquire at Beaujon. They'll know something there, perhaps." 

Voiville got into his cab again and hurried to the Beaujon Hospital. 
There he had to lose another half-hour in talk. At last he was shown into 
the manager's room. The latter asked him what was the motive of his 
visit. The reporter informed him. 

" A woman who came in during the night," said the functionary, reflect- 
ing. " Certainly. Wait — yes, an elderly woman ; she had been stabbed in 
the breast." 

"Ah! at last!" cried the reporter. " At last I've got hold of some- 
thing. Just fancy, sir, for the last two hours I've been scouring Paris over 
this business, and haven't been able to get a scrap of real news. I've learnt 
something from you, at any rate. In the first place, what is the woman's 
name ? How was she wounded ? Under what circumstances was she dis- 
covered ? " 

He had taken out his note-book and was preparing to take notes. 

"My dear, sir," said the manager, with a contrite air, "nothing would 
give me greater pleasure than to be of assistance to you. Unfortunately, 
we've had formal instructions in this woman's case. She was sent here by 
the chief of police. No one is to see her, no one is to hold any communi- 
cation with her, so naturally, we cannot give you the slightest information." 

" What ? Not even the nature of her wound ? " 

" Yes, I have already told you that : a stab in the breast, and her condi- 
tion is absolutely hopeless. I cannot understand even how she has lived 
for so long, and every minute I expect to hear of her death. If the cap- 
ture of the murderer depends on her information — !" 

Here was a fresh disappointment. Gratien Voiville was beginning to 
despair. What would he do ? Where go to now ? 

Where ? Why to the chief of police, of course. He hurried to the Pre'- 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



201 



feoture, ran up the stairs leading to the offices, and rushed like a whirlwind 
into the waiting-room. 

" The chief is out," said the porter. " He said he should possibly not 
be in again to-night. M. Droz is going to draw up the report." 

M. Droz is a chief inspector, who with Inspector Fouassy — one of the 
veterans of the Prefecture — dates from Louis Philippe, and who hurled 
a missile at Caussidiere on the day when that ferocious democrat invaded 
the Prefecture in 1848. A slave to duty, good old Droz never breathes a 
word of what happens, and, so as not to be tormented, invariably says that 
he knows nothing. Voiville therefore did not even dream of asking him. 
Where could the chief of police be ? At Beaujon, perhaps, taking the 
woman's depositions ? Ah ! it was enough to kill anyone with shame and 
rage. And the editor was expecting the most circumstantial details ! 
Voiville did not dare to show his face at the office again. An idea struck 
him, for want of something better. 

"Suppose I went and looked up my friend M. Manuel?" he said 
to himself. "Perhaps I shall get to know something through him. I'll 
tell him my position. 'Tis a question of life and death for me. I'm a 
ruined man if I don't have at least ten lines about this affair." He drove 
to the Saint-station. Such had been his disappointment during the course 
of the morning, that he was almost prepared to find no one in. When bad 
luck begins to pursue a man, it follows him to the end. To his great sur- 
prise, therefore, he found the office open and every one all agog. He went 
in and gave his name. Peraud, the inspector, placed his finger on his lips 
and dragged him into a corner 

" There's something fresh going on," he said. 

" Nonsense ! " 

" Yes, the commissary was out all last night." 

"Last night!" cried the astonished reporter, who wondered to himself 
whether he was going to find out by chance the solution of the mystery that 
he had been vainly trying to discover for the last three hours. 

" And he's closeted now with the chief of police." 

" With the chief of police ! Then it it that ; the boulevard affair, the 
murdered woman that they've taken to the Beaujon Hospital," said Voi- 
ville, hardly able to contain himself. " That's it, isn't it ? " 

"Hush!" said Peraud. "You'd get me into trouble, if the guv'nor 
knew I'd been talking to you. Wait a minute. I'll send your card in. 
If they admit you, you will appear to know as much as they do." 

"Thanks, Peraud," said the reporter. "Be easy, I'll make it all right 
for you." 

The inspector took Voiville's card in. 

" Show him in, show him in ! " cried M. Manuel, delighted. 

" Who is it? " asked the chief of police. 

" A friend of mine, a journalist. He may be of use to us." 

"How?" 

" Hush ! here he is." 

" Well, my dear fellow," cried the commissary joyfully, on seeing Gratien 
Voiville enter ; " you've come to ask about last night's affair, eh ? " 

" Yes," said the reporter, with a knowing air, " a woman murdered at 
the Clichy Gate, wasn't it ? " 

" You know it already? Well, upon my.word, you fellows are astonish- 
ing. But do you know the woman's name ? " 

" Well — no, and I was just — " 



202 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" Ask the chief of police." 

"This woman, if she could manage to recover, or even speak," said that 
officer, " would do us a great service, for she could put us on the track of 
a man whom we've been struggling after for nearly two months." 

" What ! " cried Voiville, " can it be—?" 

" Loyal -Francceur ! yes, sir, exactly." 

" Then, it was he who—? " 

" Who murdered his mistress, his accomplice, the woman Broussel, mid- 
wife and somnambulist, of the Rue Taille-Pain ; an old acquaintance of 
mine, whom I often wished to get out of the way, but who was protected 
by powerful influence. She's in a bad way now, poor woman." 

" And Loyal-Francceur has escaped you again ? " 

"As usual." 

" Then it's another fruitless errand ? " 

"No," said M. Manuel, rubbing his hands; "no, for I had the 
satisfaction to-night of taking home to the Rue Bellechasse Mademoiselle 
Jeanne de Rieumes, found at last, and found by us." 

" Mademoiselle de Rieumes found ! " cried Voiville. " Impossible ! " 

" The law may be slow, but it always attains its ends," said the com- 
missary sententiously. "If you like to come with us to the colonel's, 
where we were going when you came in, you can satisfy yourself as to the 
truth of what I say." 

LIX. 

HOME AGAIN. 

Everyone had met together in Jeanne's bedroom, a young maiden's bed- 
room, simply hung with white muslin. At the bedside were Louise, 
Madame Borin, and Paul, who had been hastily informed of the good news; 
Colonel de Rieumes was sitting in an armchair, where he had passed the 
night, in defiance of the doctors' strict injunctions, they having ordered him 
to rest ; lastly, M. Pringy and Victor were there, standing a little 
apart from the others. The humpback, tired out by his two restless nights, 
had gone home to sleep. By one of those phenomena which doctors can 
neither foresee nor explain, the narcotic which the mountebank Alcindor 
had given Jeanne in order to make her sleep and to enable them to move 
her more easily to the Avenue de Clichy, this narcotic, by producing a cairn 
and beneficent slumber, had almost brought about her recovery. On rous- 
ing in her bed-room, at her father's side, she had imagined that she was 
awaking from some fearful dream. And when Paul, beside himself with 
joy, arrived, she had smilingly held out her hand to him, as if she had only 
taken leave of him the day before. Then things had gradually come back 
to her ; she remembered leaving the house and being carried off, her im- 
prisonment in the little house in the middle of the wood, and the young 
man who had spoken to her in such a gentle and respectful voice. She re- 
cognised the young man, hiding behind the other persons present. She 
made a sign to him with her hand. 

" Was it you, sir, who brought me back here ? " she asked. 

Victor huug his head sadly. Before he could reply Jeanne uttered a 
loud cry. 

" Ah ! " she murmured, " no, I remember, the flight — alone, alone — lost 
among those great gloomy streets. I fainted — but after that, what 
happened afterwards ? " 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 203 

" You were taken care of by some honest people who nursed you like 
their own daughter and who, after your recovery, brought you back to your 
father," said Clairae, who did not wish his darling to torture her mind by 
vain seekings, nor to fatigue her too much by the complicated history of 
the adventures which she had gone through. 

" My recovery ?" said Jeanne. "Have I been ill, then ? " 

"Yes, for a few days. But that's over, quite over. The doctor has no 
fear now," said Louise, arranging the pillow which the patient, in moving, 
had pushed on one side. 

"And — the people who nursed me, it was you, no doubt, you and your 
mother, whom I see at my bedside ? " 

Louise was about to reply in the negative, but the colonel made a sign to 
her, and she said in a whisper, and as if ashamed of the falsehood : 

"Yes." 

"Then kiss me, my sister, and you, too, my second mother. Paul and 
my father ought to love you well." 

Louise took her in her arms and kissed her tenderly. It was a 
charming picture, these two girls' faces, one overflowing with health, the 
other still pale, but both breathing happiness and mingling their charms in a 
sisterly embrace. 

" One would say they were two sisters?" whispered Pringy to Victor, 
whose eyes were overflowing with tears. 

" Alas ! " replied the latter with a sigh. " But what a distance separates 
them." 

" Less, perhaps, than you think," insinuated the count. 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Nothing. I must keep silence at present. We'll talk of it again, later. 

"Now, my darling, you must keep quiet," said the colonel, getting up 
from his chair and taking his daughter's hand. " The doctor has forbidden 
you to talk too much." 

" Very well, father, but on one condition — that my little sister shall not 
leave me." 

The colonel looked inquiringly at Louise. The young girl tcok a chair 
and sat down at Jeanne's bedside. 

" Nearer, nearer still," said the latter, in an affectionate voice. 

And, taking Louise's head between her hands, she asked : 

" What is your name ? " 

" Louise." 

"Well, Louise, you will be my sister, always, always, won't you ? '' 

" Always. But you must be good and do as the doctor orders." 

" Kiss me again, Louise. I'll do whatever you tell me. And when I'm 
married, you'll still stay. Paul will let you, won't you, dear ?" she asked, 
holding out her thin, transparent hand to the young man. 

As his sole answer, the latter took the hand and covered it with kisses. 

"Upon my word, I have no remorse now," growled Pringy, coughing, to 
hide his emotion, ' ' this fellow has not paid too dearly for his happiness, 
after all. I'll make my proposal, too, and quickly." 

" What do you mean ? " asked Victor again, puzzled by his companion's 
half-confidences and asides. 

" That for the last two days I've had a most whimsical idea in my head, 
an idea that never occurred to me before, or, if it did, I dismissed it as 
folly." 

" And what is the idea ? " 



204 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

" I want to get married. It's silly, it's mad, but so it is." 

" And what is there to prevent you ? " 

" Many things. In the first place I haven't the least notion whether the 
person I'm thinking of would have me." 

" You have only to ask her," said Victor, more and more astonished at 
these confidences, especially at such a time and such a place. 

" I daren't." 

" Well, she has no doubt got friends." 

" Yes. But that's worse still. And, look here, Victor, you might be of 
assistance to me." 

"I? " 

" You. Because you might give me some good advice. You know, 
straightforwardly, no mincing words, as to an old soldier that there's no 
beating about the bush with." 

" I don't know the lady." 

" H'm ! — yes. You do know her. Listen to me," said Pringy, who was 
getting rather mixed in his explanations. "You must know that, yesterday, 
when the colonel came back home — " 

" The chief of police and M. Manuel, commissary of police, are inquiring 
whether they can see M. de Rieumes," interrupted a servant. 

Pringy breathed freely again. It seemed as if this announcement, by 
cutting short his confidences, had lifted a weight from his mind. 

•' Show them into the drawing-room. I'll go there with these gentlemen," 
said the colonel. 

The footman bowed and withdrew. 

" What's in the wind? Have they arrested Loyal-Francceur at last ? " 
said Pringy, coming forward. 

"We shall see," said the colonel. " Come along, gentlemen. Jeanne 
needs rest, and it is time we left her. Good-bye, my darling," he added, 
imprinting a kiss on his daughter's face. 

" Good-bye, father. But Louise may stop with me, may she not ? " 

" Certainly. Now Paul, give her a kiss, I give you permission." 

Paul kissed Jeanne's hand once more and got up and followed the other 
men. 

' ' Well, about this service that I can do you ? " asked Victor of Pringy, 
when they were in the corridor. 

" Oh, it's too long a story, " said the count. " I'll tell you another time." 

The chief of police, M. Manuel, and Gratien Voiville were sitting 
talking in the drawing-room. They rose on seeing the colonel and his 
friend enter. 

"I was expecting your visit, gentlemen," said the colonel, bowing to 
them. " Well, was your last night's pursuit successful ? " 

' ' Yes, and no, colonel, " said the chief of police. ' ' Something unexpected 
happened to us, and for that reason I am anxious to interrogate you. Oh, 
quite privately, at present," he continued, noticing the movement that the 
word had caused the colonel to make. " Let us try and avoid a misunder- 
standing, sir. You are angry with me for having left you abruptly in order 
to go in pursuit of your daughter's abductor. As far as you were concerned, 
she was restored, it was all over ; but you must understand that it was im- 
possible for me to look at things in the same light ? " 

" Certainly," began the colonel, rather embarrassed. 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



205 



" To you, sir, had happened a joyful event which made you forget all past 
troubles, and you forgave the criminal. To me, sir, a magistrate, the im- 
passible and inflexible representative of the law, this course is forbidden. 
It is my duty to pursue the criminal, notwithstanding, and in the face of, all 
opposition, and bring him within the power of the court which will judge 
him. Such is my duty, and such are my orders, and you, an old officer in 
the French army, know that a man must never argue with his duty nor 
with his orders. If I hesitated for a single instant, I should be unworthy 
of the uniform which I wear and the cross of honour which I carry on my 
breast. " 

" Quite true, sir, and, far from bearing you any ill-will on that account, 
I congratulate you on it," said the colonel, carried away in spite of himself 
by the officer's sincere warmth. "But, this misunderstanding explained, 
tell me now what questions you propose to put to me, and also what 
occurred in last night's chase." 

" Let us take things in their order. When you went into the office in 
the Avenue de Clichy, where your daughter was restored to you, did you 
see a woman ? " 

" Did I see her '! Why, she took me there." 
" Ah ! and what was she like ? " 

"As far as I could see — for I was much upset, and very little disposed to 
look at people's appearance — as far as I could see, she was fat, red-faced, 
about forty years old — more, perhaps. Yes, five-and-forty. " 

" That's it. Then we were on the right track. That was the wretched 
woman who was sacrificed." 
"Sacrificed! Who?" 

" Madame Honore" Broussel, the midwife, Loyal-Francoeur's accomplice, 
whom we picked up last night on the Boulevard Bessieres, dying, stabbed 
in the breast by a dagger. 

" By a dagger, and by whom ? " 

" Why, by her accomplices, to whom she was a burthen, and who killed 
her dog, too, for fear, no doubt, that he would put us on their track 
again." 

" I remember the dpg as well." said the colonel. " He was lyinc under 
my daughter's bed, and would not move." 

" Consequently, doubt is no longer possible ; it was Loyal-Francceur and 
his accomplice that we missed by a minute last night at the Clichy Gate. 
You see, Monsieur de Pringy, you who were indignant at seeing me think- 
ing of my warrants in the midst of your family scene. " 

" I don't know what has been the matter with me for some time past " 
said Pringy ; " but everything that I undertake, everything that I do that 
I say, turns out badly for me. And that just at the moment when an idea 
has occurred to me which may change the whole course of my existence 
Accordingly, I hesitate to express it, and yet — " 

"In one word," said the colonel, "the rascals escaped you again ? " 
" By a second, and leaving in their track a pool of blood to stop us. But 
we've not done with them yet, unless — " 

The chief of police stopped abruptly, and a livid pallor overspread his 
face. 

" What is the matter '!" asked Colonel de Rieumes and M. Manuel to- 
gether, " are you ill ? " 

" No," said he, collecting himself, " it was an idea, a terrible idea, which 
crossed my mind. Yesterday, as you know, I had three of my men with 



206 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

me, among whom was Fauvette, the most eager, courageous, and devoted 
man in the service. Now, whilst we were attending to the wounded mid- 
wife, Fauvette suddenly disappeared. Where did he go ? There is no 
doubt in my mind, he went on the fugitives' track. And just as I was 
thinking of that, and waiting till he came back, in order to be enlightened, 
the idea struck me that he may have been drawn into a trap and murdered 
as well. It was rather too much for me. But no, Fauvette is intelligent 
and clever. I have hopes." 

"Is that all you want with me, sir?" asked M. de Rieumes after a 
moment's painful silence. 

" At present, yes ; for being satisfied that I've been dealing with the 
same scoundrel again, I shall continue to take my measures on the same 
basis. So I will go, only begging you, as soon as Mademoiselle de Rieumes 
is better, as soon as she is in a condition to talk without fatiguing herself, 
and, lastly, as soon as the recollection of what has passed is no longer a 
source of danger to her, begging you, I say, to let me know." 

" At present," said Pringy, " her mind is feeble, and any questions would 
be out of place." 

" I know it, and therefore I do not insist. M. Manuel, you have nothing 
to say to these gentlemen ? M. Voiville, you have sufficient information ? 
Good day, then, colonel. As for you, gentlemen," he added, turning to 
Victor and Pringy, " will you be good enough to come to my office ? Things 
are drawing to a conclusion, for I believe that in eight and forty hours from 
now we shall have captured Loyal-Francreur at last." 

" Upon what do you found that hope?" whispered M. Manuel as they 
went out. 

"I don't know. I feel it." 

LX. 

WHAT FAUVETTE WAS ABOUT. 

Still accompanied by M. Manuel and Voiville, and followed by Pringy and 
Victor, the chief of police returned to the prefecture. The rag-picker, 
Prosper Martin, who had come to give his evidence as to the events of the 
night before, was waiting in the ante-room. 

" Has Fauvette come in? " inquired the chief of police of his secretary, 
placing his hat on the chimney-piece. 

"Not yet, sir." 

" No news of him ? " 

"None." 

" It's inconceivable — and alarming. Well, we'll wait a little longer. 
Give me this morning's report." 

"Here it is, sir," said the secretary, handing his superior a packet of 
papers. 

" Now then, sit down, gentlemen. I won't keep you a minute ; you are 
as much interested in this as I am." 

He glanced anxiously through the papers, and threw aside one after the 
other five or six reports which treated of other matters. At last his eyes 
sparkled ; he had discovered something. 

"La Villette report," said he : "At eight o'clock a boatman came to the 
station and stated that he had seen a horse and trap in the canal at the top 
of the Rue de Crimee. The fireman from the Chateau -Laudon, having been 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 207 

summoned by telegraph, came and dragged out the horse, which was 
drowned, and the broken waggon. This waggon is one of those moving 
houses which serve as dwellings for mountebanks. It contained a bed, 
divers household utensils, weights and ropes such as were used by strong 
men, and the whole paraphernalia of a travelling dentist. The door-plate 
bears the following inscription : Pierre Bouclillon, otherwise Alcindor, 
dentist, Paris (Seine). The driver of the waggon has not been found. It 
is supposed that he has been drowned. A search is being made." 

" That's the waggon I saw them with," said the rag-picker ; " a mounte- 
bank's ' in-and-out.' " 

" And in which they escaped,'' added the chief of police. 

" Can they have been drowned, then, in their flight? " 

" No, don't hope that. It's a new trick of that cunning rogue. He made 
us believe in his flight ; he wants now to persuade us that he is dead. The 
one won't go down with me any more than the other " 

" Then, where can he be ? " 

" How can I tell. There are a thousand hiding-places in Paris. We 
might have all the lodging-houses and dens searched, and then not discover 
anything. Chance is sometimes the cleverest of detectives. But cunning 
against cunning. M. Volville, I think you know enough about this affair 
now. Write any sort of account you please ; but pretend to believe that 
both the murderers have been drowned. That will embolden them, per- 
haps, to expose themselves sooner. Now, gentlemen, your depositions. I 
have a thousand things to attend to, and I want to make haste and get 
through the formalities connected with this case first. " 

Voiville withdrew, and the chief of police called his secretary to draw up 
the report of the night's events. 

In their refuge in the quarries Loyal-Francceur and Alcindor Boudillon, 
tired to death, benumbed with cold, and knocked up by their sleepless 
night, continued to feign sleep whilst watching one another's every move- 
ment. At last the inquiry agent could bear it no longer. He got up to 
stretch his cramped legs. His companion followed his example. 

" Are we going to stop here long ? " asked Loyal-Francceur. 

" Hang it ! we can hardly show our faces on the Boulevard des Italiens 
just at present. There's pretty good reason for thinking that our walk 
would soon be interrupted. So I think that if we want to go out, we had 
better wait at least till it's dark." 

" It's enough to freeze anyone here." 

" Yes ; it's not so comfortable as your Rue des Chantres office. It's all 
your fault, though ; why did you go in for a job beyond your powers ? " 

" Alas ! " sighed Loyal-Francceur, shivering. 

" So the best plan is, as the wise man said, to bear one's misfortunes 
patiently and wait. And, besides, you wanted to stop in Paris." 

' ' Yes ; and, to tell the truth, I almost repent it. I should have done 
better to fly," said Loyal-Francceur, half cowed by the darkness, fatigue, 
and silence. 

" Pooh ! It'll never do to throw the helve after the hatchet. You told 
me you had a splendid affair on hand. Think about it ; it'll make the time 
appear shorter." 

" I'm getting rmngry, too," said the inquiry agent, " and if we have to 
wait seven or eight hours more — " 



208 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

"Hungry ? Well, we'll have breakfast.'' 

"Breakfast on what?" 

"Ha, ha ! old fellow. That shows up the man used to luxury. You 
had counted on escaping by the railway to-night ; and, blase that you are, 
you said to yourself that there are refreshment-rooms along the line. I 
who am a poor outcast — I never think of refreshment-rooms. I do like the 
third-class travellers, I carry my provisions with me." 

" Provisions ! " cried Loyal-Francceur, whose eyes sparkled. 

"Rather. Look here. " 

Opening his bag, the mountebank took from it a two-pound loaf, a 
sausage, and a bottle of wine, which he showed to his wondering companion. 

"Not to mention a nip of cognac," he said, pointing to a flask hanging 
at his side. " Come on, as you feel like it, let's break a crust together. I 
haven't got any napkin to offer you, but you must take the will for the 
deed. Only be careful ; that's all there is for to-day." 

" Come on, quick," said Loyal-Francceur, taking a piece of bread, which 
he began to devour. 

" Eat away, old fellow, eat away," said the mountebank, cutting away 
at his sausage. "As an old song said, that I used to sing when Iwas a 
youngster : 

' Eat well to-day, for it may come 
That neither you nor I shall eat to-morrow.' " 

"Be quiet!" cried Loyal-Francceur, ceasing from eating and turning 
quite pale, " be quiet. The song's like a fatal prediction." 

"Bosh ! you don't mean to say you're superstitious now ? Sapristi! a 
man who was a fortune-teller's lover. Well, we know all about it now. 
Somnambulist as she was, she didn't find out what was going to happen to 
her to-night. " 

" Be quiet, I tell you ; it's that, perhaps, that gives me the blues. The 
poor woman loved me, and I loved her too ; there, really, I did love her." 

" Well, you were rather rough with her, that's all," said Alcindor with 
his mouth full. 

" Don't make a joke of it. It was a necessity for both of us. But I'd 
give — there, I'd give half of what we made to-night, that it shouldn't have 
happened ! " 

" What's done's done," said the mountebank philosophically. " There's 
no occasion for being down in the mouth. Have a drink, old chap, and 
let's talk about this fresh business." 

" Yes. I told you, didn't I, that there was another job for us to-night? 
Well, this it it." 

" Let me fill a pipe ; I shall understand you better." 

" You remember the first stroke of business I got you to do ? " 

"The man who had nothing but card-counters in his pocket' Yes; 
well ? " 

" That man was in the way of a very rich woman, ' the princess,' as they 
called her. She was madly in love with another man, and Pedrillo— that 
was our man's name — knew some terrible things about her, by which he 
could have got money out of her. " 

" We put Pedrillo out of the way all right, I know that. So the 
princess felt comfortable. " 

"No, not at all. The man that she was in love with, a young artist 
called Clairac, was going to marry a girl — 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



209 



" That we seized and took off to Nogent. I know that again, as it was 
her that we captured again after her escape and gave back to her father 
yesterday. Goon." 

"I managed to find out a plan to get a 'mug' accused of the whole 
business. The artist fought a due], and the princess got hold of him. So 
far all had gone well. But I alone was not satisfied. I didn't think I had 
been well enough paid for my trouble. " 

" The man's insatiable," said Alcindor, puffing out a cloud of smoke. 

"In addition to that, I had Pedrillo's pocket-book — a pocket-book 
crammed with papers, damaging letters, police reports, and even notes of 
terms of imprisonment undergone by the celebrated 'princess.' I deter- 
mined to make use of them." 

" That's plain enough." 

" So I went to her. But, proud as a Spaniard, she told me that she'd 
paid me, and wanted to put me out of the house. I shouted, and she too ; 
the artist arrived, there was a row, and I had the misfortune to put a bullet 
into her that killed her on the spot." 

"Like last night's knife business." 

" Don't keep reminding me of that. I escaped and came to you. You 
know the rest. But since that the princess's house has been shut up. The 
seals have been affixed and everything guarded. Now, there are untold 
riches there— gold, notes, jewels, and rare objects ; treasure, old fellow — 
treasure that we can share between us. " 

" Treasure ! " repeated the mountebank, his face lighted up with greed. 

"Treasure ! And when shall we go there ? " 

"This very night." 

" To-night. Bravo ! " 

At that moment a slight sound, like something falling in the distance, 
broke the silence of the gallery. Loyal-Francceur started. 

" Did you hear that? " he asked, terrified. 

The mountebank, snatching up the lantern, had dashed in the direction 
from which the sound proceeded. But he had to stop after taking a few 
steps ; one of those slimy ponds of which we have spoken stood there, broad 
and impassable, and blocking the whole gallery. He listened. The sound 
had ceased. 

" It's nothing," he said, picking up his pipe, which had fallen on the 
ground. " Some collapse in the quarry ; that often happens." 

" If anyone had heard us — " 

"Impossible; there's a barrier. No one could get near us. And even 
if some poor devil had heard us, you didn't name the house, did you ? " 

• e • * t 

Lying fiat on his stomach, crawling along the layer of gravel and plaster 
which formed the flooring, Fauvette glided out of the gallery. He dragged 
himself along thus for nearly half an hour, making his way like a snail as 
far as the spot where the miners were at work. Once there, he stood up, 
passed them boldly, and rushed out, ran to the nearest cab-rank, and 
opened the door of the first cab. The driver made a grimace at the sight 
of this soiled and plastered individual ; but a ten-franc piece which 
Fauvette exhibited checked any disposition to object. 

" Where to, sir ? " he asked. 

"Thirty-six, Quai des Orfevres." 

" Bight," said the driver, winking. '■' Pull up, my k*s ! '' 

H 



!10 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



LXI. 



"Which, having been read over to him, the undermentioned signed with 
us," said the chief of police, concluding his examination. 

"Thanks, gentlemen. My colleague M. Manuel and I are going to the 
magistrate to inform him of what has occurred. Kindly give my respects 
to M. and Mademoiselle de Rieumes. " Victor and Pringy rose. Prosper 
Martin took up his cap which he had placed on a chair, and they all went 
out. 

As the two magistrates were about to take leave of the witnesses at the 
staircase, in order to go along the corridor which leads to the Palais de 
Justice, a man with his clothes disordered and covered with white dust 
rushed like a thunderbolt into the middle of the group. 

" Fauvette ! " cried the chief of police, recognising him. 

"And in what a state ! " said M. Manuel. " Where the deuce have you 
been ? " 

"Where have I been? In the quarries, where I followed my man. 
It's a certainty this time, sir ; to-night they're ours ! " 

" What ? are you certain ? Then we'll be off at once." 

"It's needless. I know where to find them. Only listen tome for a 
minute." 

" Wait a moment," said his chief. " Come back to my room, gentlemen ; 
we can't talk out here in the passage. Fauvette will tell us his story. " 

They went back. Fauvette sat down. 

"If it's all the same to you, sir, I'll ask leave to eat, and, above all, to 
drink something. Ever since yesterday I've been on my legs, with an 
empty stomach, and I'm literally faint with hunger. I can talk just the 
same, and better." 

The remains of the detectives' breakfasts were in their room. They 
were brought to Fauvette, who began to eat like a famished creature. 

" Well," said he, " when you stopped to see to the wounded woman and 
I saw the murderers escaping I couldn't bear it any longer and went after 
them. It was bad business, they were going faster than me, and if they 
had taken any turning, I must have lost sight . of them. But they went 
straight on, as if they intended to go right round Paris. So I had only to 
do the same. All the same, they had a long start, and I had had enough 
of it, I had a stitch in my side. But just as I was beginning to despair, I 
saw a black object in the distance which seemed to me like their trap. I 
made an effort and got a little nearer. I could see it quite plainly. It 
was them. The sight gave me strength and I began to run again. But I 
saw them alter their direction and go down the Rue de Crimee • then, 
suddenly, close to the hedge, crash ! horse and trap in the canal. As for 
the two men, they had gone over the bridge and were walking along the other 
side. If I could have found a policeman, the thing would have been plain 
sailing ; but for me alone it was folly to think of it. Good intentions are 
no use, a man can't capture two fellows like they are. So I contented my- 
self with following them. I watched them go round the Buttes Chaumont 
and slip through a hole into the quarries. I didn't hesitate. After giving 
them time to get on a little, I slipped in as well. What a night ! I was 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 



211 



freezing. My two men slept like the just, but I shivered in silence. This 
morning they began to have breakfast, but I, who was dying of hunger 
and had cramp in my legs, daren't move, for fear of being discovered. At 
last, after having a drink, they began to chatter, and I heard all about 
their future plans. To-night, at ten o'clock, they're going to pillage 
Madame Dolores Wilson's house in the Avenue Montaigne." 

" To-night ! are you certain, Fauvette ? " said the chief of police. 

" Sure and certain — If you like we can catch them like rats in a hole." 

" If I like ! — I should think I did like. Quick, let's take our measures. 
But they won't get the start of us ? " 

' ' They won't come out till dark. " 

" Then we have plenty of time. You're not too tired ? " 

" Tired ! " said the detective in astonishment. " I was, just now. It's 
all over now. Ready to start on another night of it, if necessary." 

" We'll go with you," said Victor and Pringy. 

" I don't much like it, but I suppose I must consent." 

"Thanks." 

" Fauvette, go and fetch Anthsaume and comeback to us. Xow, gentle- 
men, to the Avenue Montaigne." 

Nine o'clock was striking. Walking cautiously, Loyal-Francceur and 
Alcindor glided out of the quarries. Keeping close to the walls and ex- 
ploring each street, they went silently along. The Avenue Montaigne was 
deserted. At rare intervals a foot-passenger walked quickly along. The 
house that Dolores had lived in was without light and shut up. 

"How shall we get in ? " asked the mountebank. 

"Let's go round to the garden," replied the inquiry agent. "You 
should know how to climb a wall ? " 

" What a question ! " 

" Then give me a lift." 

Boudillon took his accomplice by the waist and lifted him up as if he had 
been a child. Loyal-Francceur, making use of his hands and feet, got over 
the wall and let himself down on the other side. 

" Come along," he said, in a low voice. 

Alcindor had not boasted ; with one spring he reached the top of the 
wall, with another he was at Loyal-Francceur's side. 

"And now ? " said he. 

"Wait." 

Taking from his pocket a bunch of instruments like those that we saw in 
the hump-back's possession, he noiselessly opened the back door of the 
conservatory. Once there, groping his way along, he went and forced the 
lock of the door of communication. Then he made the mountebank go in 
with him and shut this door behind him. 

" Have you the lantern ? " he asked. 

"Yes." 

" Light it, we're at home now." 

Alcindor lit the lantern. They went upstairs. Another door yielded 
like the first two. They were in the drawing-room. 

" At last ! " said the mountebank, with a sigh of relief. 

" You see I've kept my word. Now we must find the swag." 

"It's a fine place, this," said Alcindor, casting an amazed look arouud 
him, 



212 PISPAJOn AND SKCRECY. 

"Fine, yes, but we haven't come here to admire. Let's look for the 
strong-box. If I'm not mistaken, it should be in the bedroom." 

" Let's go and look." 

They went out into the corridor and entered the bedroom where we saw 
Paul being nursed by his mistress. Loyal-Francoeur walked first with his 
tools. Aloindor followed him, carrying the lantern. The door was not 
locked. The inquiry agent opened it and then sprang back. The ray of 
light which Alcindor's lantern had thrown in front of him had shown him 
the outlines of two men standing in the middle of the room. 

" What's the matter ? " said the mountebank, who had seen nothing. 

Loyal-Francceur had not time to reply. The door of the drawing-room 
had opened again behind them and two men advanced to capture them. 
Dashing the lantern on the ground, the mountebank ground it under his 
foot, and taking advantage of the respite which this sudden transition 
from light to the densest darkness gave him, he rushed at hazard at an- 
other door, which gave way beneath the shock, with a sound of broken 
woodwork and glass. Behind this door, on the grand staircase, he saw 
two more men. He turned quickly. But the circle had drawn close. On 
one side Mas the chief of police, with the count ; on the other, Antheaume 
and M. Manuel ; on a third, Victor and Fauvette. And, at the far end of 
the drawing-room, Prosper Martin, acting on his own account, arrived up- 
on the scene, carrying a candelabrum with three candles to throw a light on 
the scene. The two scoundrels, foaming with rage, drew their knives, 
resolving at least to sell their liberty dearly. For a moment the assailants 
hesitated. Then, more impatient than the others, Victor rushed forward 
and seized Loyal-Francoeur by the throat. The latter's knife descended, 
leaving a deep gash in the young man's face, who fell covered with 
blood. 

" Avenged at last ! " cried the murderer. 

He was about to repeat the blow, but Fauvette seized his arm, whilst 
the chief of police pinned him from behind. During this time the mounte- 
bank, fighting like a mad bull, was struggling with Prosper Martin, 
Pringy, Antheaume and M. Manuel, who had fastened upon him. Fortu- 
nately Antheaume succeeded in getting a cord round him ; in the twink- 
ling of an eye the giant was bound and powerless. Seeing which, Loyal- 
Francoeur, ceasing all resistance, said to those who held him : 

" Don't hurt me, I surrender." 

They tied his hands and left him in charge of the detectives. Victor, 
who had fallen to the ground, seemed to be lifeless. The Comte de 
Pringy, bending anxiously over him, was feeling for the beating of his 
heart. The touch of his hand made the young man recover from his swoon. 
Wiping away the blood which bathed his face, he smiled faintly. 

" It's nothing," he murmured ; " only a scratch. May the blood which 
flows from it be a new baptism and wash away my past sins. " 

" M. de Pringy," said the chief of police, " I leave him to you ; Prosper 
Martin will help you to carry him to Colonel de Rieumes', where I'll send 
presently to inquire after him. I must take my prisoners to some safe 
place. We've had trouble enough to secure them. " 

"That's right, everyone to his task," said Pringy. "Come along, 
Martin ; help me to carry Victor." 

He bent over the wounded man again. But the latter, raising himself of 
his own accord, said in a beseeching voice : 

"No, not there, for my mother and sister's sakes ; — take me where you 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. -1'' 

like, to an hotel, a hospital, or nowhere at all. There's nothing the 
matter with me, it's only a scrateh, I tell you." 

" Ah ! " yelled Loyal-Francceur with rage, " I've missed him after all." 

" Come along, you," said Fauvette, taking him by the arm. "As for 
the other one, we must carry him to the cab. He'd lead us some fresh 
dance if we untied him." 

Leaving Victor who, in fact, was standing up and not appearing to be 
in need of any assistance, the rag-picker helped Antheaume and M. Mauuel 
to carry Alcindor to a cab, in which they placed him. During this time 
Fauvette and the chief of police, each holding one of Loyal-Francceur's 
arms, led him down and took their places beside him in a second cab. 

" To the Prefecture," said the chief to the drivers. 

Alone with Victor, the count bathed his wound which, in fact, had only 
penetrated the skin and was of no depth. It wasjiastily bandaged and, 
leaning on Pringy's arm, Victor was able to go down the stairs with a firm 
step. 

"You see," said the young man, " it's nothing. Now that our task is 
over, that Mademoiselle de Rieumes and M. Clairac are happy, Loyal- 
Francceur is in the hands of the law, and my sin is at last repaired, may I 
ask, of the colonel and of you, a favour ? " 

"What is it?" 

" Obtain leave for me to enlist, get me accepted as a soldier in one of the 
Tonkin regiments, under the flag of France. There I shall rehabilitate 
myself in your eyes and my own, and, during my absence, take care of my 
old mother and my sister. " 

" Bravo, old fellow, but, since you speak to me like this, I, too, will ask 
you a thing which would conciliate all, if it were possible." 

"What is it?" 

" The secret which, on two occasions, did not manage to pass my lips." 

"Well?" 

" Do you think that your sister would accept me as her husband ? " 



LXII, 

loyal-fkancceuk's last trick. 

The two cabs conveying the prisoners drove off in the direction of the 
Prefecture. In the first one Antheaume and M. Manuel were guard- 
ing Alcindor, who was tightly bound. In the other Fauvette and the chief 
of police were doing the same for Loyal-Francceur, whose hands only were 
secured. In order to avoid any curiosity on the part of the public, the 
blinds were pulled down. The inside was completely dark. From the 
Champs-Elysees to the Prefecture, there is a direct way by the Rue de 
Rivoli and the Place du Chatelet. " But the Rue de Rivoli being under re- 
pair, and encumbered with heaps of stones and ruts, the cabs turned along 
by thv? Carrousel, in order to gain the quays. The road is very uneven in 
the Place du Carrousel. Under the influence of the jolts Loyal-Francceur 
convulsively moved his hands which were tied crosswise across his chest. 
When they arrived at the macadamised roadway of the quays, he gave a 
sigh of relief. His captors did not attach the least importance to it ; but 
this sigh, no less than the movement caused by the jolting, had a great im- 
portance of its own. After the fashion of old criminals Loyal-Francceur 



214 DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 

had, suspended to his neck by a strong cord, a knife, a simple clasp-knife, 
concealed under his coat. By a miracle of patience, and by the aid only of 
two fingers, which were at liberty, he had succeeded in opening his knife. 
And when the jolting of the cab had seemed to cause such a disagreeable 
motion he had rubbed the cords against the open blade, thus gradually 
sawing through his bonds. The sigh of satisfaction announced that he had 
at last succeeded. But he took good care not to move. Far from it. He 
clasped his hands more tightly than ever on his chest, in this way conceal- 
ing the ends of cord, which might have hung or fallen down. They arrived 
at the Quai de 1' Horloge. The two cabs entered the archway. Alcindor, 
still bound, was taken out first. Then came Loyal-Francceur's turn. 
Groping his way, he pretended to miss the step. Fauvette loosed his arm 
for a second. Suddenly shooting out his arms like two catapults, he 
dashed his captors aside, and, rushing along the quay, climbed upon the 
parapet. Fauvette, picking himself up, sprung after him, to seize him. 
Nothing was left in his hand but a fragment of cloth ; Loyal-Francceur 
had leapt into the Seine. Full of courage, the detective climbed the 
parapet in his turn and dived in the direction where his prisoner had dis- 
appeared. Antheaume, coming up behind him, did the same. Leaving 
Alcindor Boudillon in the hands of the Depot warders, the chief of police, 
M. Manuel and two or three others, rushed to the spot with lights. 
Below the quay, in the black waters, the three men were swimming, one 
trying to gain the opposite bank, the other two pursuing him. In the 
streams of light thrown out by the gas lamps, a head was all at once seen 
to appear, two hands beat the water, then all disappeared in the gloom, 
only to appear again a few yards further on. Loyal-Francceur was a 
vigorous swimmer. Having been maturing his plan for the last hour, 
he was in possession of all his presence of mind. Husbanding his strength, 
he dodged his foes, misleading them by numerous twists and turns, and by 
diving when they were close upon him, without apparently distressing 
himself. They, on the contrary, being obliged to regulate their movements 
by his, and not daring to put forth all their strength and speed, began to 
tire. Several detectives who had come out of their quarters were launch- 
ing boats to assist in this exciting man-hunt. Loyal-Francceur felt himself 
lost. Just as Fauvette was about to overtake him, he let himself sink, and 
seized the detective's leg. 

" Help, Chocolat ! " cried Fauvette, who disappeared, dragged under by 
his assailant. 

With two powerful strokes Antheaume was at the place where the two 
had last appeared. There was only an eddy, which the swift current 
was already sweeping away. The detectives who manned the boats 
bent to their oars. Several of them were taking off their clothes in 
order to dive in their turn, when a head emerged, that of Fauvette. They 
hurried to him to take him into the boat. He was literally exhausted. 

" Where is he? " asked the detectives. 

He shrugged his shoulders. 

" He should be at the bottom," he replied. " Ah the scoundrel! he had 
clutched me and was dragging me after him. I hoped for a moment to be 
able to hold him until help came, and then we should both have been fished 
out. But it was no go, I was choking. I thought of an old trick that a" 
friend of mine, a sailor, once taught me ; I drew up the other leg, and let 
him have it on the head ; he let go at once. I should have liked to have 
tried it again, but I was too done. You must have a toy and get him." 



DISPATCH AND SECRECY. 215 

They searched the river in vain. Nowhere was Loyal-Francceur to be 
Keen. Two or three detectives had the courage to dive, in spite of the cold 
and darkness. But they found nothing. The Seine kept its prey. 

"Come," said Fauvette, shivering, " I've had enough of this." 

They fished out Antheaume, whose teeth were chattering, and all went 
back to their quarters to warm themselves. The chief of police and M. 
Manuel were drawing up the report. 

" He was an artful dog," said Fauvette to his comrades, after having re- 
lated to them the evening's adventures. "But his last trick didn't come 
off." 



LXIII. 

EPILOGUE. 

One month after the circumstances that we have just related, an eager and 
sympathetic crowd was collected in the Church of Sainte-Clotilde, where a 
double marriage was to take place. At last, Paul Clairac led to the altar 
Jeanne de Bieumes, who was quite well again, although rather pale, and 
the Comte de Pringy, beaming with joy, was marrying Louise, who, as 
much from sympathy as from love, had, on her brother's first words to her, 
said that she would gladly consent. The two young brides were dressed 
exactly alike in white satin, with long trains and bodices of white silk 
fitting close to the figure, with large tulle veils completely covering them. 
One would have thought that they were two sisters. Among the spectators, 
in the midst of the cream of society, artistic and military, which had 
hurried thither on the invitation of the Count and Clairac, were several of 
our own acquaintances. First there was the chief of police, whom Pringy 
had insisted on having as best man. Then came Victor, in the uniform of 
the Marine Infantry, and only waiting for the celebration of the double 
marriage to go and join, as he had requested, the Tonkin expeditionary 
force. The long scar, hardly yet healed over, which Loyal-Francoeur's 
knife had made, attracted the attention of all, and harmonised well with 
his simple uniform. Next was Isidore, the humpback, superbly decked 
out. He had been in despair, poor fellow, at not having been present at 
the final scene. He would have prevented Loyal-Francoeur's escape ! he 
knew all his old master's dodges. Then he had related what the others had 
done, and had added to that the part that he would have played if he had 
been there. It ended by his being thoroughly persuaded that the capture 
was entirely due to him. This capture was reduced to that of the person 
of Alcindor Boudillon, the mountebank ; for Madame Honors Broussel 
had died in the hospital. Considered only as an accomplice, Alcindor was 
about to make his appearance at the assizes, with New Caledonia in pro- 
spect. The humpback paraded himself therefore as an important per- 
sonage. He was supremely happy, moreover, for the colonel, who had 
given his arm to good Madame Borin, whom he called his "chum," had 
announced to him that he would attach him to his person, as a student of 
painting, commonly known as a dauber. The fact was, the colonel, to 
whom joy and tranquillity were restored, had taken up again his two 
favourite hobbies, oil-painting and gardening. As regards gardening, he 
had infected Madame Borin, who, never having had any flowers but in her 
windows, went into ecstasies over Monsieur de RJeumes' borders and his 



216 DISPATCH AXD SECRECY. 

hot-houses on the new system. As for painting, he had initiated Isidore, 
who, as a humpback, had all at once felt a mad passion for the straight 
trees and branches which the colonel perpetrated. 

The lower ranks were represented by the rag-picker, Prosper Martin, 
who had on his arm " Mother Comfort," in a more striking costume than 
ever, and was chatting with Victoire, otherwise Madame Derousse, the 
Charly nurse, who carried in her arms the poor little unknown baby who 
had been entrusted to her to play the part of Jeanne's child. The colonel 
had declared his intention of adopting this child and taking charge of him 
until his majority. When one is happy he should think of those who 
suffer. In the midst of all, Voiville, notebook in hand, taking notes, half 
guest, half journalist, certain, in any case, of cutting out all his comrades 
by the sureness of his information, was fluttering about from one to another 
and seeming to be in half-a-dozen places at one time. Lastly, modestly 
seated side by side, the two detectives, Fauvette and Antheaume, were 
talking over the whole affair. They reminded one another of Pringy's 
arrest, his being confronted at the Morgue with Pedrillo's body, and said 
to themselves that they would attend his wedding. Whilst admitting that 
it was very curious, the honest " Chocolat" remarked that " all's well that 
ends well," but Fauvette sighed. 

" No, old fellow," he said to his comrade, " this isn't what should have 
been. I ought to have let myself sink with my prisoner. They would 
perhaps have fished us out both dead, but it would never at least have been 
said that Fauvette let his man go. I was faint-hearted that day ; I must 
confess it. A detective should never think of his life ; he should think of 
nothing but his duty. " 

"That's true," replied Antheaume. 



THE END. 



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